(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden called for antitrust legislation targeting technology giants, putting a spotlight on companies including Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc., Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.
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Biden urged Congress to “pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage” during his Tuesday State of the Union address.
His remarks mark a win for progressives who have been pushing for legislation to rein in the tech industry’s power for years.
The comments also mark the first time the word “antitrust” has been used in the State of the Union since 1979, according to historical records of the annual speech.
Biden has elevated the issues posed by big corporations more than any other president in decades. He appointed a trio of progressives to key roles overseeing antitrust policy at the White House, Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department.
Last year, he signed a sweeping executive order designed to promote competition that required agencies across the federal government to investigate and take action against corporate consolidation in industries including agriculture, healthcare and tech. The executive order included 72 initiatives by more than a dozen agencies, touching on everything from restricting non-compete agreements for workers to policing bank mergers.
Biden, in his remarks, also touted his administration’s efforts to crack down on so-called “junk fees,” or unnecessary charges that raise the prices of items like airline tickets, hotel rooms and internet service.
He said his administration will require airlines to disclose full ticket prices upfront and will push banks to reduce “exorbitant” bank overdraft fees.
“Junk fees may not matter to the very wealthy, but they matter to most folks in homes like the one I grew up in,” Biden said. “They add up to hundreds of dollars a month.” He pointed to the Junk Fee Prevention Act, a proposal that would crack down on the practice across the economy.
“Americans are tired of being played for suckers,” Biden said.
Biden has criticized the largest tech companies, arguing that Amazon, Meta, Google and Apple have abused their power.
However, Congress last year failed to pass a pair of antitrust bills that would have cracked down on anti-competitive practices by the biggest tech companies. Some advocates last year blamed the White House for failing to elevate the issue.
Biden is also urging Congress to pass legislation to “stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.”
Biden in a Wall Street Journal op-ed earlier this year called for bipartisan legislation to hold the social media companies accountable.
–With assistance from Josh Wingrove.
(Updates with comments on junk fees from seventh paragraph)
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