White House meets small and mid-sized firms to discuss competition in tech sector

The White House is illuminated in the early evening shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump was acquitted in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial in Washington, U.S., January February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) - White House officials met on Wednesday with small and mid-sized companies to discuss competition issues in the tech sector, as momentum grows in the U.S. Congress to rein in large technology companies.

The meeting was attended by Bruce Reed, president Joe Biden’s top tech advisor and deputy chief of staff; Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council and executives of smaller tech firms such as Sonos and Yelp Inc, the White House said.

"The meeting focused on the challenges entrepreneurs, brick-and-mortar retailers, and other businesses face competing in sectors dominated by a few large platforms," the White House said in a statement.

Concerns discussed at the meeting included fees charged by large technology companies, how large tech firms operate an online marketplace for third-party sellers and also sell their own products on such platforms, and how businesses are ranked on those platforms.

Last year President Joe Biden signed an executive order to promote more competition in the U.S. economy, urging agencies to crack down on anti-competitive practices in sectors from agriculture to drugs and labor. He has since taken several steps to promote competition in the U.S. meat industry.

The meeting to discuss competition issues in the tech sector occurred ahead of a vote in the U.S. Senate on Thursday where the Senate Judiciary Committee will mark up a bipartisan bill from Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Republican Chuck Grassley that would bar companies such as Amazon and Alphabet’s Google from favoring their products and services.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Mumbai; editing by Grant McCool)

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