(Bloomberg) – The Senate on Tuesday night passed legislation allowing state attorneys general to choose where their federal antitrust lawsuits are heard, a blow to Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which had opposed the bill. .
The chamber passed the measure unanimously. An amendment removed a provision that would have applied the measure retroactively to an antitrust lawsuit filed in 2020 by Texas and 14 other states and territories against the operator of the world’s largest search engine.
The bill, which enjoys broad bipartisan support, now requires a vote in the House. If enacted, the legislation would give states the power to decide where antitrust trials take place, with companies not allowed to challenge those decisions. The federal government already has the same right.
The measure grew out of a 16-month investigation by a House antitrust panel into the power of giant tech platforms. It represents a key step by U.S. lawmakers to limit the monopoly power of internet giants in the nearly 30 years since the global web was made available for commercial use – except for a measure to protect children’s online privacy in 1998. It’s part of a package of antitrust bills designed to rein in Big Tech that Congress is pushing to pass into law before the August recess.
Other bills, expected to be voted on as early as next week, would block big tech platforms like Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Meta Platforms Inc. to favor their own products over those of smaller rivals that use their platforms. . A second proposal would open up app distribution on mobile devices, requiring Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc. to allow additional app stores and payment methods.
The states’ antitrust lawsuit against Google — which accuses the search giant of monopolizing the ad tech market — was originally filed in federal court in Texas. But Google managed to have the case transferred to New York, where it is now being heard alongside a group of private antitrust cases against Google.
Senator Alex Padilla, a California Democrat, had expressed concerns about the fairness of the bill’s application to cases already filed. Efforts to return the state’s antitrust lawsuit to Texas will likely be subject to litigation.
Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah and co-sponsor, had twice called for the bill to pass and was blocked by Senate Democrats, who wanted to wait and push the legislation forward alongside more other antitrust measures.
Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado and the bill’s lead House sponsor, urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a floor vote on the measure, which rolled out of committee a year ago. year.