Fear of losing Amazon Prime drives skepticism about antitrust bill: Industry poll

The public is hesitant to support bipartisan antitrust legislation meant to rein in Big Tech for fear of losing Amazon Prime free shipping.

Democrats critical of Big Business and conservatives worried about censorship are working toward passing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and Open Apps Market Act to rein in Big Tech . Yet the public is worried about the possible repercussions of the two bills, according to new polling data from the technology trade group Chamber of Progress and Morning Consult.

Consumers were most worried they could lose Amazon Prime and its free shipping on select products. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that they were more likely to oppose tech antitrust legislation upon learning that it could restrict Amazon from providing free shipping to Prime customers, according to data sent to the Washington Examiner.

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would authorize the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to prevent the largest companies from giving unfair preference to their own products on their platforms. Amazon maintains that the act would end its Prime services, but bill sponsors Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) say that claim is a bluff.

Some in the tech industry warn that the legislation could inhibit platforms’ ability to moderate their own content. Section 3(a)(3) of the Klobuchar-Grassley bill makes it unlawful for covered platforms to “discriminate in the application or enforcement of the terms of service of the covered platform among similarly situated business users in a manner that would materially harm competition.”

That position would appear contrary to public interests, since the majority of respondents supported tech companies having some form of content moderation policy. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Apple should have the ability to remove “hate speech, violence, bullying, and suicidal content” from the platform. Only 20% of respondents said platforms should be required to carry all forms of content.

Views of the companies’ content moderation policies were shaped by political affiliation. Sixty-one percent of Democrats said tech companies were not doing enough to remove harmful content, as opposed to 39% of Republicans. “The tech antitrust bill has a content moderation problem, especially among Democratic voters and lawmakers,” Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich told the Washington Examiner. “People want social media to take down harmful content, so legislation that opens platforms up to hate speech and violence is going to meet resistance.”

The Open App Markets Act, which moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, would allow app developers to sell their products to consumers without the specific restrictions or transaction fees that app stores implement and allow transactions within the app without having to go through the platform.

Conservatives have had mixed responses to Klobuchar’s and Grassley’s proposed legislation. A coalition of conservative organizations led by the Internet Accountability Project filed a letter on Thursday arguing that the legislation would help rein in Big Tech’s power over the economy. A separate group, led by Americans for Tax Reform, argued in a July 19 letter to Congress that the Klobuchar-Grassley bill expands the government’s size, exacerbates inflation, and fails to offer any meaningful response to conservative concerns about Big Tech’s content moderation policies.

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