John Oliver exposes how Google and Amazon are stifling competition
Years ago, John Oliver galvanized his Last week tonight viewers to join the fight for net neutrality – sparking a flood of comments that destroyed the Federal Communications Commission’s website in 2014. Last night, it turned its attention to a pair of tech antitrust bills coming.
During his Sunday night show, Oliver explained how big tech companies rule the internet. From Apple and Google taking huge cuts in app store sales to Amazon’s stranglehold on online sellers, Oliver explained how the power these companies wield could stifle innovation and how lawmakers could shake up the industry.
“The problem with letting a few companies control entire sectors of our economy is that it limits what’s possible for startups,” Oliver said. “An innovative app, website, or startup may never get off the ground because it can be overloaded to death, buried in search results, or ripped out completely.”
Specifically, Oliver noted two bills pending in Congress aimed at curbing such anti-competitive behavior, including the American Choice and Innovation Act (AICO) and the Open App Markets Act.
These measures would prevent big tech companies from recommending their own services and force developers to exclusively sell their apps on a company’s app store. For example, the AICO would prohibit Amazon from favoring its own private label products over those of independent sellers. The Open App Markets Act would require Apple and Google to allow users to install third-party apps without using their app stores.
“These bills would open the door to innovation and return the internet to what it was meant to be all along,” Oliver said.
While Republicans and Democrats back the bills, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has yet to call them for a vote. Earlier this year, Schumer promised to bring them up for “early summer,” but nothing has been scheduled as Congress prepares to vote on a bipartisan gun control bill.
Activists, like Evan Greer of Fight for the Future and Luther Lowe, senior vice president of public policy at Yelp, raved about Oliver’s Sunday segment. “Stop what you’re doing and watch this” Lowe tweeted on Monday.