By: Ilana Siyance
On Monday, New York State’s Senate passed an anti-trust bill, in line with the state’s recent resolve to restrain big technology companies.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the anti-monopoly legislation was voted in with 43-20 party line votes, indicating a hardline stance in senate, likely reacting to the absence of action by Congress. Advocates will aim to use the bill as a foundation to toughen laws at the federal level as well as in other states. “We have a problem in this country. We have a problem that there is tremendous market power in very, very few hands,” said NYS Sen. Michael Gianaris, a Democrat and lead sponsor for the bill, at a virtual press conference on Monday. “Small startups and medium-sized businesses don’t have the opportunity to grow and innovate.”
The proposed New York bill would make it unlawful for a company “with a dominant position in the conduct of any business…to abuse that dominant position.” A company is considered dominant if it has more than 40 percent of the market share. The bill would make it easier for plaintiffs to gain victories in antimonopoly lawsuits. To become a law, the bill must still pass at the state assembly and also be signed by the governor. The bill is heavily backed by unions and critics of corporate goliaths like Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. To be sure, though, the legislation also has its fair share of opposition including big businesses.
Opponents of the legislation fear it could usher in a flood of class-action lawsuits. “It’s being dressed up as being anti-big tech, but the reality is this is going to draw in a lot of small businesses,” said New York state Sen. George Borrello, a Republican critic of the bill. “It’s going to create unnecessary litigation and have a negative impact.”
The state legislature’s current session ends this week, marking the last days scheduled as yet this year for the bill to become law. If it doesn’t get passed this year, the bill would need to be reintroduced next year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office made no immediate comment regarding their stance on the bill. As per the WSJ, Mr. Gianaris said he’ll keep fighting even if it isn’t passed this year.
Congress has also been mulling changes to the antitrust law on the federal level, but they have not made much progress this year, as other pressing topics have taken precedence. States such as Maryland and Florida have already added statutes to mitigate powerful tech corporations.