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U.S. moving toward major antitrust probe of tech giants

U.S. moving toward major antitrust probe of tech giants

Postby smix » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:59 pm

U.S. moving toward major antitrust probe of tech giants
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1T42JH
Category: Politics
Published: June 3, 2019

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is gearing up to investigate the massive market power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, sources told Reuters on Monday, setting up what could be an unprecedented wide-ranging probe of some of the world’s largest companies. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, which jointly enforce antitrust laws in the United States, have divided oversight over the four companies, two sources said, with Amazon and Facebook under the watch of the FTC, and Apple and Google under the Justice Department. Technology companies are facing a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by some people’s belief that the firms have too much power and are exerting a harmful effect on users or competitive marketplaces. The Justice Department and FTC generally do not acknowledge preparations for any investigations. U.S. President Donald Trump has called for closer scrutiny of social media companies and Google, accusing them of suppressing conservative voices online, without presenting any evidence. He has also repeatedly criticized Amazon for taking advantage of the U.S. Postal Service, also without evidence. Shares of Facebook Inc and Google’s owner Alphabet Inc both fell more than 6% on Monday. Amazon.com Inc shares fell 4.5% and Apple Inc shares were down 1%. U.S. media reported on Friday that the Justice Department was laying the groundwork to investigate Google to determine whether the world’s biggest online advertising platform was using its size to squeeze out smaller competitors, violating laws designed to ensure fair competition. The company declined comment on Friday. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Amazon would come under the remit of the FTC in any probe. Amazon declined comment on Monday. Apple and Facebook did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Monday.
REGULATORY SCRUTINY
The four technology companies, all with market values in the hundreds of billions of dollars, have drawn scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world over aspects of their business practices, although it was not clear what the U.S. Justice Department or FTC were planning to look at, if anything. Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, has been criticized for holding sway over third-party sellers on its website, who must pay for advertising to compete against first-party and private label sales by Amazon itself. Lawmakers have also argued that Amazon’s low prices have hurt brick-and-mortar retailers, many of whom have been unable to compete and have closed. The European Union is investigating a complaint by streaming music provider Spotify Technology SA that Apple abuses its power over app downloads. In 2014, the iPhone maker settled a Justice Department lawsuit alleging it conspired with publishers to raise the price of e-books. The FTC has already been investigating Facebook’s sharing of data belonging to 87 million of its users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Facebook said in April that it expected to be fined up to $5 billion by the regulator. Facebook, which owns one-time rivals Instagram and WhatsApp and has more than 1.5 billion daily users, has a huge influence in many countries and has been criticized for allowing misleading posts and so-called ‘fake news’ on its service. The company last month rejected a call from one of its co-founders to split it into three, as lawmakers ramped up pressure on the Justice Department to launch an antitrust investigation. Google has faced accusations that its web search service, which dominates the market and has become a verb, leads consumers to its own products at the cost of competitors. The FTC settled an investigation of Google in 2013, concluding that the company had not manipulated its search results to hurt rivals. But the company has been fined multiple times by the European Union’s competition regulator, most recently in March for 1.5 billion euro ($1.7 billion) in a case focused on illegal practices in search advertising brokering from 2006 to 2016. Legal experts have said U.S. regulators are unlikely to attempt to break up the technology giants. It is rare to break up a company but not unheard of, with Standard Oil and AT&T being two of the biggest examples. U.S. antitrust probes more often result in an agreement to change certain business practices.



House panel to probe competition in digital markets
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1T42QU
Category: Politics
Published: June 3, 2019

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee said on Monday it had started a bipartisan investigation into competition in digital markets. “A small number of dominant, unregulated platforms have extraordinary power over commerce, communication, and information online,” the panel said in a statement that did not name any companies. Separately, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are gearing up to investigate the market power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google, sources told Reuters on Monday.
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House Judiciary launches antitrust investigation into tech giants

Postby smix » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:05 am

House Judiciary launches antitrust investigation into tech giants
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/policy/technology/4 ... ech-giants
Category: Politics
Published: June 3, 2019

Description: The House Judiciary Committee is launching a bipartisan investigation into whether large tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are using their vast market power to suppress competition. The panel's Democratic and Republican leaders announced the investigation, which will address the question of whether Congress should pass more stringent antitrust laws to rein in Silicon Valley, on Monday. The open internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online," Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications." "Given the growing tide of concentration and consolidation across our economy, it is vital that we investigate the current state of competition in digital markets and the health of the antitrust laws," he added. The investigation will be the first Congress has ever conducted into how Silicon Valley's dominant platforms wield their vast market power. The probe will include a series of hearings and will give lawmakers an opportunity to seek information from the companies about their practices through requests and subpoenas. The committee said the probe would focus on three areas: documenting where competition is lacking in digital markets, exploring whether large companies are suppressing competition, and determining whether Congress and regulators need to do more to address Big Tech's dominance. "As tech has expanded its market share, more and more questions have arisen about whether the market remains competitive," Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee, said in a statement. "Our bipartisan look at competition in the digital markets gives us the chance to answer these questions and, if necessary, to take action." The news comes as regulators are also reportedly setting themselves up for a broad investigation into Silicon Valley. In recent days, media outlets have reported that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agreed to divvy up the largest tech companies into their respective jurisdictions. The FTC would reportedly have the responsibility of investigating Facebook and Amazon, while the DOJ could pursue Google and Apple. It's unclear whether there are any investigations in the works, but the reports sent the companies' stocks tumbling Monday. If Congress decides that the rules need changing, tech companies could have even more to fear. "This is the first time there’s been an investigation of this magnitude in decades, and frankly it’s long overdue," Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who chairs the Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, told reporters on Monday.
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