US Justice Dept. to interrogate Big Tech companies in antitrust case
The lawmakers have been preparing for this moment, and it’s finally here: on Tuesday, the United States Justice Department finally announced its intention to probe into the Big Tech – Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple – and determine how to curb their power.
The reason these companies have been targeted by the antitrust review is simple; as big tech companies that amass massive influence over consumers and possess vast amounts of data, they have a huge responsibility, and it’s for the greater good if they don’t abuse that responsibility to make themselves more powerful. Therefore, this long-awaited review will look into each company’s market dominance, how it was achieved and how it has been wielded.
In a press release, the department wrote that it will investigate “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.” What’s more, there’s been a change in strategy as well.
Earlier, the plan was to split the four companies equally between the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but now it appears that the companies will get way more than they bargained for as both departments are planning to interrogate each company together.
Among the many questions that need to be answered, officials are hopeful that they will be able to get a measure of the kind of power that each company currently possesses.
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the department’s Antitrust Division. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
In response to the Justice Department’s move, a Google spokesperson referred to the company’s director of economic policy Adam Cohen’s testimony given to the House Judiciary Committee last week, in which he said: “We have helped reduce prices and expand choice for consumers and merchants in the U.S. and around the world. We have created new competition in many sectors, and new competitive pressures often lead to concerns from rivals. We have consistently shown how our business is designed and operated to benefit our customers.”