U.S. Antitrust Bill Expanded to Include TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat

  • Senate Judiciary Committee will take up measure on Thursday
  • Tech giants would face restrictions on favoring their products

A technology-focused antitrust bill set to be considered by a U.S. Senate committee Thursday will be expanded to include China’s two largest social media companies – a change that seeks to address criticism that the legislation would give an advantage to foreign digital firms.

The bill’s criteria for a covered platform will be expanded to include companies that have 1 billion worldwide monthly users or $550 billion in net annual sales, in addition to the existing $550 billion market capitalization-threshold. These new criteria would capture ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat.

A Tencent spokesperson declined to comment, while representatives for ByteDance didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

TikTok is ByteDance’s most popular global service. It has captivated teenagers from the U.S. to Southeast Asia, while Tencent’s WeChat is the go-to lifestyle, payments and social media platform for upwards of a billion people – mostly in China.

The legislation, which would prohibit so-called gatekeeper companies from giving an advantage to their own products on their platforms, already applies to Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Meta Platforms Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

The U.S. technology giants have warned that the bill would place burdensome restrictions on American innovation, risk user privacy and security by opening some platform functions to competitors and damage products that are popular with consumers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the bill on Thursday. A similar version already passed the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, but has yet to get a floor vote in the full House.

Author: Anna Edgerton, Bloomberg

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