A House Democrat introduced legislation Thursday that would create a new federal agency to regulate digital platforms, such as Facebook and Google, that have been accused of harming consumers.

The bill, authored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), would create a Federal Digital Platform Commission to help tackle major issues created by Big Tech platforms related to data privacy, content moderation, and monopolistic behavior.

Welch’s bill, which has an almost identical counterpart in the Senate introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), gives the new five-member independent commission (similar to the Federal Trade Commission) the sole responsibility of regulating digital platforms by creating new rules and requirements that the bill deems “systemically important.”

“Digital platforms remain largely unregulated and are left to write their own rules without meaningful democratic input or accountability,” the bill text reads.

“The unregulated policies and operations of some of the most powerful digital platforms have at times produced demonstrable harm,” according to the legislation.


The legislation would also give the new commission power to review relevant mergers between digital platforms, research and investigate platform activities, and respond more quickly and efficiently to consumer complaints related to platform behavior.

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission is the main federal agency in charge of regulating digital platforms, and some Democratic lawmakers pushed earlier this year to give the agency more funding to create a new bureau dedicated to regulating major tech platforms.

Welch, though, said the FTC has too many responsibilities to regulate other industries and therefore can not adequately tackle platform issues without compromising its work to regulate other sectors.

“I came to the conclusion that the significant, across-the-board challenges that we face with the emergence of this new industry and economic sector can’t be addressed on a one-off basis,” Welch told Politico.

Welch has said he will look for Republican supporters for the bill.

New federal agencies typically require significant bipartisanship and long periods of debate before they can be created, meaning it will likely take years before such legislation passes.

The Big Tech companies themselves appear to be in favor of a new federal agency devoted to digital platforms because it would provide them with clear rules of the road, and they could also try to influence the agency as the largest lobbying spenders in Washington.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said at a privacy-related conference in April that a new agency focused on platforms would represent “a better future than asking a Congress or a legislature or a parliament to go on a piecemeal basis and change each and every law separately.”


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also told Welch at a congressional hearing last year that such a new agency “could be very effective and positive for helping out.”