Sen. Mike Lee, ahead of Wednesday’s Senate subcommittee hearing into potential anti-competitive practices in Apple’s App Store and Google Play, said the focus will focus on how the tech giants treat app developers offering services that compete with the companies’ own offerings, and whether the developers are being treated fairly.
“We want to figure out whether and to what extent they’re distorting market forces and if they’re allowing or thwarting competition,” the Utah Republican told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “Competition brings quality up and prices down. We want to make sure that our current laws are sufficient to address that.”
Lee, as the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, and its chairperson, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., are leading the inquiry into the big tech companies, with lawmakers being concerned about the way they run market places around the world to give access to millions of apps on their handheld devices.
Lee noted that anti-trust and competition policy tends to be something that doesn’t change frequently, and when it does, “it tends to be brought about as a result of bipartisan consensus,” as it’s not an area that tends to bring a “lot of partisan rancor.”
“We do have a tech sector and a few giants within the tech sector that are really testing the limits as far as what the market can handle and whether the market can correct itself,” Lee said. “That’s why we’re looking at this, trying to figure out whether our competition laws are up to the task, whether they’re adequate in and of themselves.”
Lee added that he doesn’t necessarily think that competition policy and anti-trust law should be things that should change a lot, but still, “from time to time, adjustments need to be made, and we’re trying to figure out whether that’s necessary.”
Meanwhile, Lee is also introducing legislation that would strip Major League Baseball out of an anti-trust exemption it has used for almost 100 years.
The push comes after the league moved its All-Star game out of Atlanta over Georgia’s new voting law.
“My best guess is that most of the people who came out against the law hadn’t read it,” said Lee. “If they had read it, they didn’t pay attention. If they read it and paid attention, they were engaging in some sort of rank political activity and gunning for the left.”
He added that he thought the league’s decision to move the game came from an entity that did not care what anyone said or thought regarding its actions.
“It certainly shouldn’t have a farcical anti-trust exemption to embolden it into taking ridiculous actions like this one,” said Lee.
He added that he has a “bone to pick” with people such as President Joe Biden who equate laws guaranteeing election security with the racist Jim Crow laws of the past.
“This is an insult to so many people on so many levels,” said Lee. “We held a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on this yesterday. Unfortunately, the Democrats who hold the majority in the committee gave the title Jim Crow 2021 to the hearing talking about these laws. It’s an insult to those who lived through Jim crow, an insult to my friend Burgess Owens, a congressman from Utah, who lived to experience some of the after-effects, some of the latest stages of Jim crow remnants. It’s an insult to them and it’s an insult to the American people who deserve to have an election system that’s credible.”