The federal government has transferred its full investigative power to the investigation of the world's largest technology companies, countering the industry that has been growing for over a year. [Ministry of Justice] announced on Tuesday to launch an investigation Antitrust Review of the extent to which powerful Internet companies have accumulated market power and whether they have contributed to reducing competition. The announcement follows similar inquiries in Congress and the Federal Trade Commission, which shares antitrust oversight with the Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice did not name specific companies in a press release announcing its review, but noted that this would include search, social media, and some retail services considerations ̵
The pressure on technology giants has ended decades of respectful treatment of the industry. In Congress, the House's Sub-Committee on Antitrust Law conducts hearings and conducts its own investigation into the market power and behavior of large technology companies.
At a hearing last week with witnesses from Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, Representative David Cicilline, chairman of the subcommittee, said the government's attitude was too long to celebrate the new tech economy instead to question their corporate leaders.
"Congress and antitrust authorities allowed these companies to regulate themselves with little control. Mr. Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island, said in his opening speech. "As a result, the Internet has become increasingly concentrated, less open and increasingly hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship." [TODAY] Mr Cicilline sent letters to three companies at the hearing last week – Google, Facebook and Apple. He seeks answers to questions that were raised at the hearing but not directly addressed by the witnesses. Mr Cicilline called these earlier answers "evasive, incomplete or misleading".
At the announcement of the review, the Department of Justice said it would investigate whether Internet companies "harmed" consumers. Courts and regulators have interpreted the antitrust consumer disputes standard as meaning that the company's behavior has led to higher prices. However, it is difficult to argue that if services like Google and Facebook are free and Amazon is praised for low prices and convenient delivery.
This latest review is modeled on the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, which have split potential antitrust investigations against Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. It is not clear to what extent this review differs from the investigations in each company.
Google and Facebook declined to comment. Amazon did not respond immediately to a request for comments.
Apple referred to comments from Tim Cook, the company's executive director, in a television interview about CBS News.
"I think we should be scrutinized." Cook said. "But if you look at some kind of measure, whether or not Apple is a monopoly, then, in my opinion, nobody will reasonably conclude that Apple is a monopoly."
They have largely avoided domestic antitrust control and have been more aggressively investigated worldwide, especially in Europe.
In March, the European authorities imposed a € 1.5 billion fine on Google for cartel violations in the online advertising market. Regulators said Google violated antitrust rules by imposing unfair conditions on companies using its search bar on their websites in Europe. The fine was the third against Google by the European Union since 2017.
The United States, on the other hand, has recently been seen as a lesser enforcement force in antitrust enforcement, as the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are more cautious.
] "If the United States does not give in, competition policy will be determined elsewhere," said William Kovacic, professor of law at George Washington University and former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.
This is a development story and is updated.