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Sen. Klobuchar unveils antitrust reform bill that could raise bar on tech acquisitions

The legislation comes as tech giants face increasing scrutiny.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar will head the Senate antitrust subcommittee. 

Sarah Silbiger/POOL/AFP

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, on Thursday introduced legislation that aims to overhaul US antitrust law and could put more pressure on tech giants and other perceived monopolies.

The reform bill, known as the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act, seeks to raise the bar on acquisitions and, in some cases, would require companies to prove that a merger doesn't "create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition." Current antitrust law requires the government to show acquisitions will demonstrably reduce competition. The legislation would also increase antitrust enforcement budgets for the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

"We can no longer sweep this issue under the rug and hope our existing laws are adequate," said Klobuchar said in a release on Thursday. "The Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act is the first step to overhauling and modernizing our laws so we can effectively promote competition and protect American consumers."

Google, Facebook and other tech giants have come under increased scrutiny over their size and scale. Legislators and regulators are concerned about how their power might ultimately harm consumers, especially by choking off competition from smaller players in Silicon Valley. Google is facing three antitrust suits. In December, a pair of complaints were filed against Facebook seeking to break up Instagram and WhatsApp from the social networking giant. 

The Minnesota Democrat is introducing the legislation alongside Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and is coordinating with antitrust counterparts in the House. 

The legislation was earlier reported on by Axios and The Wall Street Journal.