Senate Democrats Introduce Bill to Scrutinize Price-Fixing Algorithms

Several Democratic senators introduced a bill intended to stop companies from utilizing predictive technology to raise prices. Businesses are increasingly delegating important competitive decisions, including price-setting power, to artificial intelligence, algorithms, and other predictive technology software. The new bill, titled Preventing Algorithmic Collusion Act, is intended to ensure that such conduct by direct competitors to raise prices does not avoid scrutiny under the antitrust laws. The proposed bill includes several important aspects. First, it would presume a price-fixing agreement exists whenever direct competitors raise prices by sharing competitively sensitive information through pricing algorithm software. Second, it would require businesses to disclose the use of algorithms in setting prices and allow antitrust enforcers to audit the algorithm. Third, it would prohibit companies from using competitively sensitive information from direct competitors in developing a pricing algorithm, and fourth, it directs the FTC to study the impact on competition from pricing algorithms. Businesses utilizing technology to help with pricing and other competitive decisions should monitor these enforcement efforts.

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