with Aaron Schaffer

House lawmakers touted their antitrust package targeting the tech industry as a bipartisan achievement at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill. 

But divisions within the Republican Party could present a major hurdle to actually passing it.

Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the news conference, where Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) appeared alongside Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and other lawmakers from both parties tout speak the legislation. 

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

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) criticized the bills and said he opposes giving too much enforcement power to antitrust agencies, the Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Tracy and Julie Bykowicz reported.

Republicans don’t all agree on how to address their concerns about the power and influence of Silicon Valley.

The package of bills introduced last week run the gamut from beefing up the resources of antitrust enforcers to paving the way for a break up of tech giants. The most controversial of the bills, the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, would make it illegal for major tech platforms to operate another line of business that creates a conflict of interest. 

Both Democrats and Republicans have engaged in significant criticisms of the tech giants, and their limited cooperation so far on the legislation signaled that tech regulation might be one area of common ground in a bitterly divided Congress. A handful of House Republicans have supported the House bills, but it's unclear if they'll be able to garner broad support.

That could particularly be a problem in the Senate, which is tightly divided at 50-50. 

The disputes highlight the major shift in how Republicans are approaching antitrust issues, following decades of advocating a hands-off approach to business regulation. The Republicans who support the bipartisan bills have advocated keeping the action focused on tech companies, and not on broader concentration throughout the economy. 

Conservatives‘ tech regulation push is largely motivated by claims — based on specious evidence — that Silicon Valley giants are censoring them. (The companies have denied those claims). The Journal reports that McCarthy suggested through a spokesman that he would be offering an alternative proposal specifically focused on those concerns. 

The Journal wrote that industry lobbyists are seizing on these claims, amid broader efforts to block the bills. 

Some Republicans have made censorship claims central to their pitch for working with Democrats. 

Buck has argued these bills will address Republicans claims of censorship, saying at the news conference yesterday that antitrust reform is “the only way” to limit the power of the companies. 

Trying to drum up support for the bipartisan bills, he issued a series of tweets yesterday responding to his colleagues‘ criticism and trying to drum up support for them.

“Using antitrust laws to stop Big Tech’s bad behavior isn’t Big Government, it’s law enforcement,” he tweeted. 

He also said on Twitter that some of the legislation already has support among Senate Republicans. One of the bills, which would overhaul merger filing fees to increase funding for antitrust enforcers, passed the Senate as part of a bill to address U.S. competitiveness with China. 

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up the bills next week.

And senators are currently working on their own companion legislation to accompany the House effort. 

“These bills will pave the way for a stronger economy and a stronger democracy for the American people by reining in the power of the most dominant firms online,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said at the news conference. 

Our top tabs

A health-care service Apple is developing has stagnated. 

The project, internally known as Casper, remains in the preliminary stages after departures by employees who have criticized what they say is a culture that discourages critical feedback, the Journal’s Rolfe Winkler reports. Some employees have expressed concerns about the integrity of health data, with top executives including Apple CEO Tim Cook being told about the matter, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.

An Apple spokesman disputed the criticisms and said the company’s innovations are built on data integrity. “Many of the assertions in this report are based on incomplete, outdated and inaccurate information,” the spokesman said.

Ransomware is upending the cyber insurance industry.

A surge in hacks-for-ransom has increased the requirements and costs of coverage at a time when more companies need it than ever, Rachel Lerman and Gerrit De Vynck report. Many companies are changing tactics by declining to take on new clients or capping coverage at about half of what they were previously offering.

“This is a tipping point this year,” said John Kerns, an executive managing director at insurance brokerage Beecher Carlson. “I’ve been in business for 32 years, and haven’t seen a market quite like this.” Ransom claims have surged at least 300 percent in the past year, Kerns said.

Amazon blamed social media companies for harboring buyers and sellers of fake reviews.

Social media companies need to “invest adequately in proactive controls to detect and enforce fake reviews ahead of our reporting the issue to them,” the e-commerce giant said in a blog post. The company added that it removed more than 200 million reviews it suspected of being fake in 2020.

The company also called for “coordinated assistance from consumer protection regulators around the world” to hit back at fake reviewers. The call came as regulators around the world scrutinize Amazon’s business practices, and just one day after President Biden named Amazon critic Lina Khan chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

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Daybook

  • European digital enforcer Margrethe Vestager discusses artificial intelligence at an event hosted by Renew Europe at 9 a.m. today.
  • Werner Stengg, a cabinet expert to Vestager, discusses the European Commission’s new proposal to regulate artificial intelligence at an event hosted by Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI today at noon.
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, speaks at a NetChoice event on June 22 at noon.

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