The "Monopolization Deterrance Act" introduced by Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Richard Blumenthal would allow the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to seek civil penalties for anticompetitive behavior under existing American antitrust law.
Under the bill, penalties could range as high as 15 percent of the company's total U.S. revenues or 30 percent of their revenues in the affected markets. Depending on the violation and how that figure is calculated, it could put a serious dent into the companies' bottom lines.
Alphabet, the parent company of Google, reported $38.94 billion in second quarter revenue. Amazon reported $63.4 billion in second quarter revenue. Facebook, which has said the FTC has notified it of an antitrust investigation, had $16.9 second quarter revenue. CEO Mark Zuckerberg's company recently paid the FTC $5 billion as part of the agency's investigation of its privacy violations.
“We have a major monopoly problem in this country. So when federal enforcers uncover illegal monopolistic conduct, they need to act decisively to make sure it stops," the Minnesotta senator and 2020 presidential candidate said in a statement. "Our legislation will increase the ability of the Justice Department and the FTC to deter companies from engaging in monopolistic practices that hurt competition, consumers, and innovation in our economy."
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division said in a previously released statement. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
According to the Democratic senators, their legistation has the backing of several consumer watchdog and antitrust policy groups.
“Senator Klobuchar’s legislation will put new teeth into our antitrust laws by empowering enforcers and courts to impose significant financial penalties when a corporation abuses its dominance in the marketplace," said Charlotte Slaiman, competition policy counsel at Public Knowledge, in a statement.
Klobuchar is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights.