Years ago, John Oliver inspired viewers of his show Last Week Tonight to join the fight for net neutrality, resulting in a flood of comments that crashed the FCC website in 2014. He switched his attention to some upcoming antitrust rules in the technology sector last night.
Oliver explained how major tech giants control the internet on his Sunday night show. Oliver showed how the clout of these firms may hamper innovation and how lawmakers could shake up the business, from Apple and Google shaving enormous cuts in app store sales to Amazon’s monopoly on the online seller’s market.
“The issue with a few firms controlling entire sectors of our economy is that it limits the capabilities of startups,” Oliver explained. “An innovative app, website, or startup may never take off because it is overburdened, buried in search results, or entirely ripped off.”
The American Choice and Innovation Act (AICO) and the Open App Markets Act are two proposals that have made their way through Congress to limit this anti-competitive activity, according to Oliver.
Major tech companies would be prohibited from recommending their own services, and developers would be required to sell their products exclusively through the company’s app store. AICO, for example, would make it illegal for Amazon to favor its own private label products above those of other retailers. The Open App Markets Act would compel Apple and Google to allow customers to download third-party programs outside of their respective app shops.
“These laws would allow for more innovation and restore the internet to where it should have been from the start,” Oliver added.
Despite the legislation having bipartisan support, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has failed to hold a vote on them. Schumer indicated earlier this year that they would be introduced before “early summer,” but nothing has been set in stone as Congress prepares to vote on a bipartisan gun control deal.
Oliver’s Sunday piece piqued the interest of activists such as Evan Greer of Fight for the Future and Luther Lowe, Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy. On Monday, Lowe tweeted, “Stop what you’re doing and look at this.”