Coverage: Congress to launch antitrust probe into Big Tech
The U.S. government is gearing up for an antitrust investigation into Big Tech on concern the four largest tech companies may be abusing their market position.
AP’s Rachel Lerman had the news:
On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee announced a sweeping antitrust probe of unspecified technology companies. In a statement, it promised “a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms,” which would be the first such Congress has ever undertaken.
Earlier in the day, shares of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple dropped significantly after published reports suggested that federal authorities are preparing for investigations into anticompetitive behavior by several of these technology giants.
Facebook’s stock dropped 7.5%. Shares of Google parent Alphabet fell 6.1%. Amazon declined 4.6%. Apple, which has only been mentioned tangentially in these reports, fell 1%.
The Financial Times reported:
“The growth of monopoly power across our economy is one of the most pressing economic and political challenges we face today,” said David Cicilline, the Democratic lead on antitrust issues on the House judiciary committee. “Market power in digital markets presents a whole new set of dangers.”
The DoJ won jurisdiction for a potential inquiry into Google and Apple, while the FTC was granted purview for examining antitrust issues at Facebook and Amazon. The two agencies share responsibility for antitrust enforcement in the US and must agree on jurisdiction before either launches an investigation.
Industry executives and antitrust lawyers said the two organisations typically only agree jurisdiction if they intended to investigate. But they added that any cases could take years to come to fruition and the agencies could eventually decide not to take action.
Ledyard King of USA Today noted the probe is the latest in a string of problems for Silicon Valley:
“Unwarranted, concentrated economic power in the hands of a few is dangerous to democracy – especially when digital platforms control content,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted Monday. “The era of self-regulation is over.”
The committee said it is concerned that a handful of companies wield “extraordinary power over commerce, communication, and information online,” and have claimed an unfair competitive advantage in the market.
“The growth of monopoly power across our economy is one of the most pressing economic and political challenges we face today,” Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., who chairs the panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement.