NY lawmakers discuss proposed antitrust legislation during virtual hearing

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York lawmakers are mulling over stricter antitrust laws aimed at large corporations and big-tech companies. The proposed Twenty-First Century Antitrust Act is being discussed through a virtual hearing.

“Our antitrust laws are broken. They were written over a century ago. They were intended to deal with an economy that no longer exists,” said bill sponsor NYS Senator Michael Gianaris.  

With the rise of big-tech, some lawmakers say the laws need an upgrade. New York Attorney General Letitia James is in favor of the Twenty-First Century Antitrust Act, which would strengthen the old rules.

“I support passage of this Act because it will give New York’s antitrust laws the scope and the flexibility needed for effective antitrust enforcement in this era of increasing economic concentration,” she said.

Proponents of the measure say that it will benefit consumers, provide room for more competition, and promote more “competitive pricing.” But others have raised concerns that it wouldn’t be favorable to business due to an already struggling economy. They also say that the language is too broad.

“‘The abuse of dominance’ standard is over-broad and could… affect small, medium size, as well as large businesses. There’s talk about the large tech companies, but there’s nothing that says this wouldn’t affect a large number of companies,” said Partnership for the City of New York President & CEO Kathy Wylde.

“Everyone is ordering digital; everyone is living their lives online for the last six months. If you look at the profit margins of the big tech world, they’re all doing extremely, extremely well. What we’re trying to do is protect the small and medium sized businesses,” Gianaris said.

Wylde also fears the language in the bill could send a message that New York is “anti-business.” 

“A lot of jobs that are being created in New York are coming out of the tech sector, and we certainly don’t want to send the message that New York is somehow taking action to go after that industry,” Wylde said.

The legislation being discussed remains in the state senate’s Consumer Protection Committee.

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