Justice Department launches ‘broad’ antitrust investigation of Big Tech companies
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Trump administration is launching an extensive review of the world’s leading internet companies to determine whether the likes of Facebook and Google are harming consumers and stifling competition, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.
The DOJ Antitrust Division will “consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online,” according to the press release, to identify potential “practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers,” and ensure the public’s “access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want.”
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
The Wall Street Journal describes the impending review as “broad,” adding that “a range of options are on the table,” including more focused follow-up investigations. The DOJ Antitrust division “will work in close coordination with Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.”
In April, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suggested antitrust action as one of several possible remedies to tech giants’ suppression of and discrimination against conservative users and content.
“Applying the antitrust laws is complicated, but by any standard measure, the big tech companies are larger and more powerful than the Standard Oil was when it was broken up,” Cruz said at the time. “They’re larger and more powerful than AT&T when it was broken up, and if we have tech companies using their monopoly to censor political speech, I think that raises real antitrust issues.”
According to a letter Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that month, Google has an estimated 90 percent of web search volume, and, taken together, Google and Facebook account for almost 60 percent of U.S. digital ad spending.
“As conservatives, we believe in competition,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told BlazeTV last week, endorsing an antitrust probe. “The problem is, these big companies are preventing competition; they’re going out and buying their competitors, they’re using their market power to cheat against competitors, steal their information, try and use it.” Yesterday, Hawley called the DOJ announcement “very important.”
Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and Pinterest all suffer from ongoing bias and censorship scandals, which are doubly alarming in conjunction with Facebook’s privacy scandals and concerns that figures within Google and other tech companies have been “subverted” by foreign governments. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai told Congress last month that he considers “unregulated Silicon Valley tech giants” today’s “greatest threat to a free and open internet.”
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced that he was “directing my Administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to tech censorship.” Sen. Hawley has proposed legislation that would require social media platforms to certify their political neutrality with the FCC if they want to keep their congressionally granted immunity from legal liability for what they allow users to post.