It’s no secret that the US government wants to rein in Big Tech.
Turns out, err’thing will be under greater scrutiny.
On Friday, President Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order (EO) “promoting competition to lower prices” and hoping to spur wage increases across all parts of the economy, per CNN.
Taking on Big Business
According to The New York Times, the executive order encourages federal agencies — such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — to pursue broad antitrust action.
Those agencies are actually independent from the administration but have signaled support of the EO.
The order has 72 provisions…
… including support for:
- Agriculture: “Right to repair” laws that allow farmers to repair their own tractors (instead of paying manufacturers exorbitant sums).
- Health care: States to import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada.
- Telecomms: Reinstatement of net neutrality laws that promote better broadband service and price transparency.
- Transportation: Greater scrutiny of airline fees (largely controlled by 4 major US carriers) and maritime transport prices.
- More labor flexibility: Limiting the use of noncompete agreements (which tie employees to employers) and banning “unnecessary” occupational licenses (which are a barrier to work).
- Greater M&A scrutiny: Antitrust regulators are asked to look more closely at anti-competitive acquisitions (e.g., tech buying up competitors or hospital networks consolidating) that reduce choice or raise prices.
Not guaranteed to work
The previous administration also issued “competition-focused” EOs, but to limited effect, per NYT (having said that, the FTC has already opened an investigation into Amazon’s purchase of MGM).
For max impact, the Biden administration will have to craft new laws in cooperation with Congress.
“The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: open and fair competition,” Biden said at the EO’s signing. “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism; it’s exploitation.”
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