Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has been a leader in thinking through how to apply and extend current law to the technology companies whose dominance in particular businesses has, to put it mildly, been object of significant and growing public concern. His 2018 white paper is a rich source of ideas for throwing a regulatory net around these companies in order to protect the public interest. He is a co-sponsor of the Honest Ads Act seeking to extend the current disclosure rules for political candidate ads to the online world.
His new bipartisan bill, the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act, co-sponsored by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), calls for regulating large communications platforms, defined as a“consumer-facing communications and information service provider(s)” with more than a million active monthly users. The bill would create asymmetric regulation, with burdens on the large companies aimed at promoting more effective competition from smaller companies and new entrants.
These measures have been widely discussed in academic and think tank circles, but the bill puts these pro-competition tools in the hands of the Federal Trade Commission. Data portability would compel large communications platforms, at the request of a user, “to initiate the secure transfer of user data to a user, or to a competing communications provider acting at the direction of a user, in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format.”
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