Top prosecutors from a group of US states are readying a joint investigation into whether major technology firms have violated antitrust law, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The alliance of state attorneys general could formally announce next month that they are delving into whether leading internet firms and technology platforms have used their clout to thwart competition, the Journal reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.
The US Department of Justice last month announced it is reviewing “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.”
Lawmakers and activists have raised concerns about the growing dominance of online giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon in key segments of the digital economy.
Once seen as the darlings of Washington, Silicon Valley firms have become targets for politicians of all stripes. US regulators recently imposed a record $5 billion fine on Facebook for lapses in privacy and data protection, including the leaking of private data for political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
Tech firms and their backers deny monopolistic conduct and argue the fast-evolving digital economy has robust competition and has led to lower prices and more choice for consumers.
About Antitrust Law
In the United States, antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulates the conduct and organization of business corporations, generally to promote competition for the benefit of consumers.
About Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apply In Antitrust Law
Facebook and Google dominate advertising. They’re the first stops for many Americans seeking news. Apple dominates smartphones and laptop computers. Amazon is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything.
This consolidation at the heart of the American economy creates two big problems.
America responded to the Gilded Age’s abuses of corporate power with antitrust laws
First, it stifles innovation. Contrary to the conventional view of a US economy bubbling with inventive small companies, the rate at which new job-creating businesses have formed in the United States has been halved since 2004, according to the census.
A major culprit: big tech’s sweeping patents, data, growing networks and dominant platforms have become formidable barriers to new entrants.
The second problem is political. These massive concentrations of economic power generate political clout that’s easily abused, as the New York Times investigation of Facebook reveals. How long will it be before Facebook uses its own data and platform against critics? Or before potential critics are silenced even by the possibility.
America responded to the Gilded Age’s abuses of corporate power with antitrust laws that allowed the government to break up the largest concentrations. – The Gaurdian