Here’s what we know about Senate Bill S.2992

Dozens of viewers emailed us asking about ads claiming the bill would take away digital tools from small businesses — so we looked into it.

MAINE, USA — You may have seen the advertisements for Senate Bill S.2992claiming it would deprive small businesses of digital tools, help China beat America in the tech race, and increase the risk of cyberattacks.

It’s actually called the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, but what exactly would this bill do?

“This bill is designed to level the playing field, so to speak, when it comes to antitrust,” said Christine Davik, professor of Internet law at the University of Maine.

She explains that the measure would create a law to prevent the four biggest technology companies: Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, from monopolizing the online market.

“The practices they engage in are really designed to make sure they don’t have competitors,” Davik added.

The advertisements associated with this bill have many NEWS CENTER Maine viewers wondering about the exact meaning of this bill and its intended impact.

What we can tell you is that according to the wording of the bill, it would prohibit certain large online platforms from doing certain things such as favoring their own products or limiting the availability of competing products from another company.

So if you type “smart speaker” in Amazon, Google, or Safari, you’ll get different speakers depending on which search engine you’re using.

This is because each company gives preference to its own product.

But – why are there so many advertisements about the bill?

“The primary motivation behind the ads is to prevent the bill from passing,” said Mark Brewer, a political science professor at UMaine.

He says the ads you see are advocacy ads.

“You talk about why it’s good, or why it’s bad in this case, and you talk about who you would like voters to try to influence. [You’ll] say, please contact so-and-so and tell them to vote no or vote yes on anything,” he added.

Senator Collins’ office said in a statement, “Congress has a role to play in ensuring that tech companies don’t violate long-standing antitrust laws or harm consumers. If this bill is introduced in the full Senate, I will review it carefully to ensure that it is fair and does not negatively affect consumers, small businesses, or American competitiveness.”

Senator Angus King’s office added that it is “currently reviewing the bill to assess whether it best achieves its objectives and is gathering input from Maine residents and experts in the field.”

Some of you have also asked us how this bill might affect small businesses.

“Without this bill, small businesses could be harmed more,” Davik said.

NEWS CENTER Maine is serving these advertisements in accordance with the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.

According to the commission, it does not review or pre-approve the content of political ads before they air. It does not guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contestants and advertisers, nor does it require broadcast stations to provide all aspects of controversial issues.

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Norman D. Briggs