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House GOP Leader Criticizes Bipartisan Bills Targeting Big Tech


WASHINGTON—House Republican Leader

Kevin McCarthy

(R., Calif.) criticized a bipartisan package of bills targeting large technology companies through changes in antitrust laws, a rebuke that will hurt the legislation’s chances of gaining broad support.

Mr. McCarthy, though a spokesman, said that while action to curb the companies’ power is needed, the plan “only gives Democrats in the federal government more power to tip the scales.”

The bills would expand the power of agencies that enforce antitrust laws, including the Federal Trade Commission, giving them broad new authority to block mergers, police large online platforms’ conduct, and even force them to divest certain businesses.

President

Biden,

a Democrat, on Wednesday named a leading critic of big technology firms,

Lina Khan,

to chair the FTC, giving her authority to pursue antitrust initiatives.

Mr. McCarthy suggested he would be offering an alternative proposal to rein in large technology companies that would address Republican concerns that they censor conservative speech.

“The House Republican plan to confront big tech won’t be influenced by anything other than the commitment to free speech and free enterprise,” said

Mark Bednar,

a spokesman for Mr. McCarthy.

The bills, introduced Friday, could force tech giants including

Amazon.com Inc.,

Apple Inc.,

Alphabet Inc.’s

Google and

Facebook Inc.

to separate their large online platforms and other businesses, restrict their ability to acquire competing companies, and take other steps.

A handful of House Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the bills, but they would likely need substantial bipartisan support to clear Congress.

Apple’s hardware, software and services work so harmoniously that it is often called a “walled garden.” The idea is central to recent antitrust scrutiny and the Epic vs. Apple case. WSJ’s Joanna Stern went to a real walled garden to explain it all. Photo illustration: Adele Morgan/The Wall Street Journal

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com and Julie Bykowicz at julie.bykowicz@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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