US House Committee sets sights on big tech companies through bipartisan antitrust investigation

Helena Grech - 6th June 2019

Google has already been slapped by a €1.5 billion fine by European regulators for violating antitrust laws in the online advertising market.

A House Judiciary committee has launched an investigation looking into giant technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon and any anti-competitive practices they may be employing as dominant players in the market.

House judiciary chair Jerry Nadler was quoted in US media as saying:“The open internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online. But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications.

“The Committee has a rich tradition of conducting studies and investigations to assess the threat of monopoly power in the US economy. Given the growing tide of concentration and consolidation across our economy, it is vital that we investigate the current state of competition in digital markets and the health of the antitrust laws.”

A press release issued by the House antitrust subcommittee chair Davide Cicilline reportedly sheds light on the House Committee’s area of focus will be for the upcoming investigation: “Documenting competition problems in digital markets; Examining whether dominant firms are engaging in anti-competitive conduct; and Assessing whether existing antitrust laws, competition policies, and current enforcement levels are adequate to address these issues.”

Following the announcement of the investigation on Tuesday, US tech shares slid and have yet to bounce back.
A slew of 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls have spoken extensively about the issue, with some considering – Elizabeth Warren prominent amongst them – whether regulators should contemplate breaking up these tech giants.

In Europe, regulators already slapped Google with a €1.5 billion fine for violating regulations in the online advertising market – the third antitrust move against Google by European officials in three years.

Regulators in Europe have now commented about Apple and its dominant position in the music industry. Last March, Spotify – a widely used music streaming service filed a competition complaint in Europe regarding the way in which Apple controlled its app store.

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