Over the weekend I noted that the Trump Justice Department was gearing up to go after Google parent company Alphabet over antitrust action. Now it seems that both Republicans and Democrats are going to be taking aim at several major tech companies with the goal of shattering them.
The U.S. government is gearing up to investigate whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google misuse their massive market power, 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 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.
With jurisdiction established, the next step is for the two federal agencies to decide if they want to open formal investigations. Results are not likely to be quick. A previous FTC probe of Google took more than two years.
Technology companies face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among competitors, lawmakers and consumer groups that the firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.
House Democrats will also be holding hearings on the tech giants and their misuse of power.
The House Judiciary Committee is launching an antitrust investigation into major tech companies like Google and Amazon, moving Congress closer to legislative action against the tech giants.
“This is really about ‘how do we get competition back in this space?’” Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who will lead the investigation as head of the antitrust subcommittee, told reporters on Monday.
The antitrust investigation represents a new headache for the tech giants, which have faced increased congressional pressure over the past two years. The investigation will include depositions, public hearings, and document requests, according to Cicilline. The investigation will also likely feature hearing with the CEOs of the major tech companies, while offering private interviews for witnesses worried that the tech giants would go after them.
“There can be economic retaliation and real costs for people that will come forward,” Cicicilline said.
The committee will likely produce a report and recommendations, according to Cicilline, who hopes to get some kind of legislative action finished before the congressional session ends in January 2021.
“People seem to have forgotten that there’s a reason that we have the antitrust statute,” Cicilline said.
We'll see what happens, but if both the Trump regime and House Dems are going after Big Tech, then it's win-win as far as I'm concerned.