Justice Department Opens Antitrust Review of Big Tech Companies
By: Sean Walton
The Justice Department is opening an investigation into big tech corporations for alleged anti-trust violations. The department released a statement Tuesday, saying it will examine the practices of online platforms that dominate search results, social media and retail services.
While the statement didn’t say which companies are in the scope of the probe, sources say it will review new threats posed by Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.
The move marks the latest effort by Attorney General William Barr to take on the tech giants, which is an issue he has focused on since taking office earlier this year.
“I am for vigorous enforcement of our antitrust laws in order to preserve competition, and — as I said — this is going to be an area I’m going to want to get into,” stated Barr. “The thing I’m concerned about are the network effects that are now at work…they’re so powerful that particular sectors could essentially be subsumed into these networks…they are just very powerful network effects because of their size.”
Similar inquiries are underway in Congress and at the Federal Trade Commission, which shares antitrust oversight responsibilities with the Justice Department.
The action is the clearest sign yet that the longtime arguments that helped shield the tech giants from antitrust scrutiny are eroding. Since the 1970s, a consensus in antitrust circles has been that if companies were focused on consumer welfare — for example, by offering low prices — they were not likely to attract federal intervention. Since companies like Google and Facebook largely provide free services, the thinking went, they were not subject to federal antitrust examination.
But that approach has evolved, pushed by scholars and others, as concerns about the clout and reach of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple have grown. The Justice Department has recently been meeting with tech industry experts to learn what kinds of harm the companies may have caused, said two people with knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition they not be identified because the meetings were confidential.
Shares of Facebook, Alphabet and Amazon fell more than a full percentage point following the announcement, although the scope of the probe remains unknown.
About the Author: Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple.
The above article (Justice Department opens antitrust review of Big Tech Companies) was contributed by The Daily Sheeple and is republished here with attribution to author Sean Walton and TheDailySheeple.com.
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