Monday, August 5, 2019

US Department of Justice launches broad antitrust probe of tech giants

By Emmanuel Legrand

The US Department of Justice has opened a broad antitrust investigation to determine if tech giants such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon are unlawfully stifling competition. The DoJ said it would look at “how the most dominant tech firms have grown in size” and expanded into other businesses and will also evaluate how these companies managed to leverage "the powers that come with having very large networks of users.” 
 
  The DoJ's probe is a response to “widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.”  DoJ’s assistant Attorney General for antitrust Makan Delrahim said that “digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands.” 

 
  Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is building a case against Facebook, and plans to accuse the social network of mishandling its users’ phone numbers, according to the Washington Post.


Bold and fearless

  Many on Capitol Hill
 — including such as Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both of which are Senators — are supportive of antitrust action against tech giants. “Antitrust enforcers must now be bold and fearless in stopping Big Tech’s misuse of its monopolistic power,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “I have called for this kind of inquiry repeatedly and hope that Department of Justice enforcers will match their rhetoric with real action.”


  However, some like Sen. Warren also caution that the probe should not be used for partisan purposes. “[...] we should be wary that this administration doesn't abuse this necessary review in order to pursue its own partisan agenda. This issue is too important to be dragged into Trump's petty grievances against these companies. This requires careful congressional oversight,” wrote Warren on Twitter.