The Justice Department's assistant attorney general highlighted the antitrust case against Silicon Valley's major players during a Tuesday speech.
Makan Delrahim described a range of possible arguments against tech companies as his office takes the lead in probing Google and, possibly, Apple. Separately, the Federal Trade Commission is overseeing inquiries into possible antitrust practices of Facebook and Amazon.
After discussing the breakup of Standard Oil in 1911, the 1982 dissolution of AT & T into the "Baby Bells" and the successful monopoly case against Microsoft in 2001 – which arguably helped lay the foundation for the success of Google and Yahoo ̵
Offering Low Prices or Free Services
Critics have pointed out Amazon's undeniable power in the area of American e-commerce and its foray into the world of bricks-and-mortar retail, but the company's defenders note the consistently low prices it offers on a gigantic array of consumer goods.
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But Delrahim said the Justice Department takes a much broader view.
"The Antitrust Division does not take a myopic view of competition Many recent calls for antitrust reform, or more radical change, are premised on the contrary notion that antitrust policy is only concerned with keeping prices low, "he said in his Speech at the Antitrust New Frontiers Conference.
Aside from price, "diminished quality" is a factor the Justice Department would consider.
"As an example, privacy can be By protecting competition, we can also have an impact on privacy and data protection, "Delrahim said.
Delrahim said the Antitrust Division has an "exclusive conduct" under Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.
"[Exclusivity agreements] so can be anticompetitive, however, where a dominant firm uses to achieve the necessary scale, as a result of substantial foreclosing competition, "he said.
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The Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft focuses on the inclusion of its own
"This theory is broadly applicable to other technology markets," Delrahim added.
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Swallowing Up Competitors
Facebook and Google have gobbled up hundreds of other companies – over the last two decades. Delrahim indicated that this type of behavior could have been considered anticompetitive.
"It is not possible to describe this as a transaction in a digital marketplace an acquisition is to block potential competitors, or to reduce their own claims. " According to The New York Times, Google has been at least 270 companies for over two decades, including YouTube, which is a competitor to Google Video; Waze, which competes with Google Maps;
Facebook has acquired 92 companies since 2007, including Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. The Menlo Park, Calif.
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Still, Delrahim said that acquisitions can be "positive if they are complementary technologies that bring them to market."
"Although it is not a panacea for every policy challenge presented by the digital marketplace,
it is clear that the Justice Department is taking a serious look at Silicon Valley's main players "The antitrust division does not want to shrink from the critical work of investigating and challenging anticompetitive conduct and transactions where justified," he said.
"This is because competition is harmed, consumers and markets loose with lower prices, lower quality, lower rates of innovation, less free speech and even lower privacy protections."