WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved legislation that would allow state attorneys general to choose which court to hear their antitrust cases, a bill that could affect an ongoing lawsuit against Google d ‘Alphabet.
The bill was sent to the entire Senate by voice vote.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who sponsored the measure with Republican Mike Lee, said the measure would prevent the state’s lawsuits from getting caught up in long, multi-district litigation that takes years to resolve.
“This bill would simply strengthen the enforcement of our antitrust laws,” she said.
Senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California, and others have expressed concern over the bill’s retroactivity, saying it would affect a case the Texas attorney general and others have filed against Google.
In August, a court panel ruled against attorneys general moving the fight from Texas to the Southern District of New York, where other similar cases were pending.
The text of the bill indicates that it would enter into force on June 1, 2021, before the panel makes a decision.
Texas joined other states in suing Google in mid-December, accusing the search and advertising company of breaking antitrust law by dominating all stages of the digital ad placement process. Publishers complain that one of the results has been declining revenues. Google has denied any wrongdoing.
A complementary measure to the Senate bill was one of six that were passed by the United States House Judiciary Committee in June, four of which were specifically aimed at limiting the power of big tech. However, it has not yet been considered by the entire House.
Congress is also considering large increases to the budgets of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, both of which enforce antitrust law. (Report by Diane Bartz Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)