Microsoft should face the same antitrust scrutiny as Facebook, Republican says

Technology

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is calling on Microsoft to face the same antitrust scrutiny as other large tech platforms in a letter to the company Monday.

In the letter, Jordan asks Microsoft president Brad Smith if he believes the company would be affected by the swath of antitrust bills introduced in the House earlier this month. There are five bills in total, spanning from offering up more money for antitrust enforcers to banning large tech platforms from buying up small competitors.

The antitrust package came out of a yearslong investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. The measures focus on the anticompetitive behaviors of these four companies, and it’s not as clear how they would affect other large companies like Microsoft. While Microsoft meets the standard laid out under these bills to be considered a “covered platform,” like meeting the over $600 billion market cap and 50 million monthly active users, the bills don’t target the company’s specific lines of business.

“Big Tech, including Microsoft, Inc., is out to get conservatives,” Jordan said in his Monday letter. “It is unclear why Microsoft has avoided significant attention from House Democrats.”

Assumably, Microsoft would face the same proposed standards in acquiring companies, like taking on the burden of proof, and making the data it takes from users more portable and usable on other platforms. But whereas Amazon and Apple would face more structural changes, like selling off separate lines of business, Microsoft would likely not be subject to the rules.

Jordan’s letter, which also pointed out several instances he purports as Microsoft being biased against conservatives, comes as a rift is growing among the House Republican caucus over the package. While all five bills were introduced with Republican and Democrat co-sponsors, not all Republicans are on board. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did not support the bills.

Jordan also seems to oppose the measures, opting to take different action against tech, like reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to go after platforms that allegedly censor conservative speech.

“Democrat impeachment managers don’t care about conservative censorship. Their next big mission? Empower Big Tech and Big Government to make it worse,” Jordan said in a tweet last week.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), the top Republican on the House antitrust subcommittee, called Jordan out over his criticism on Twitter, saying, “Using antitrust laws to stop Big Tech’s bad behavior isn’t Big Government, it’s law enforcement,” Buck said.

The House Judiciary Committee plans to mark up the package on Wednesday. It’s unclear how every member plans to vote. Earlier this month, lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch’s media companies, including Fox Corp. and News Corp., were urging House Republicans to vote in favor of the bills. On his show last Friday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also urged lawmakers to approve the bills.

“The tech monopolies are actually a threat to the country,” Carlson said. “If you care about democracy, you need to break up the monopolies.”