As you are all aware the race for who will be the next Democratic Presidential Candidate is heating up. Many of you know what the front runners are proposing within their campaigns, but what about the others? Senator Amy Klobuchar came out swinging in the beginning but has fallen behind in the polls. But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have big plans. In fact, she is pledging to beef up antitrust oversight and consumer protection as one of her policy proposals. She also suggested that it would be beneficial to have policies in place that would investigate when tech companies want to merge. We know what has happened with Facebook, so this isn’t a far fetched policy proposal.
“We want to be a capitalist society that works for everyone, and that means real competition that brings down prices, brings in new products and ideas, and that’s not going to happen if we have a few big guys dominating various industries in the United States. We have to look at it going forward, and then we also have to look at it looking backward.”Amy Klobuchar, Senator, Democrat – Minnesota
This particular proposal calls for broad reforms at agencies charged with enforcing antitrust policy, as well as protecting digital consumers with more aggressive protections online. But what does that even mean? When it comes to antitrust, Klobuchar called for reexamining mergers where “the integration of services insulate tech companies from competition.” It’s exactly this type of consolidation for which Facebook has been recently under fire in relation to their purchase of Instagram and then WhatsApp. In addition, she’s suggesting that mergers should also have to pay filing fees. While that would be a great financial boost, will it really achieve much of anything?
From a consumer protection perspective, Klobuchar named a series of improvements which, if successful, would give consumers more control over their data by requiring an “opt-out” option on data collection. Klobuchar also believes that these companies should be required to give notice within 72 hours of a data breach. Another interesting policy proposal includes a commitment to taking on racial biases that are built into algorithms. What isn’t clear is how any of this would actually be implemented and/or rolled out.
Klobuchar’s plan also includes a commitment to rural broadband. This is something that she’s talked about a length on the campaign trail and was also mentioned in her first campaign policy release, which mainly focused on infrastructure. Klobuchar believes that this could be achieved by 2022, while also restoring Obama-era net neutrality rules.
How this would work is a bit unclear, but Klobucar does seem to have some kind of a plan. On antitrust, she indicated that we need to create “a more stringent legal standard” for approving mergers by “shifting the burden of proof” to companies who are able to show that a merger won’t reduce competition. When it comes to consumer protections, Klobuchar said she would establish “digital rules of the road” for privacy. This is all fine and well, but she doesn’t clarify how she would go about doing it.