House Lawmakers Condemn Big Tech’s ‘Monopoly Power’ and Urge Their Breakups

from NYTs

House lawmakers who spent the last 16 months investigating the practices of the world’s largest technology companies said on Tuesday that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google had exercised and abused their monopoly power and called for the most sweeping changes to antitrust laws in half a century.

In a 449-page report that was presented by the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic leadership, lawmakers said the four companies had turned from “scrappy” start-ups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” The lawmakers said the companies had abused their dominant positions, setting and often dictating prices and rules for commerce, search, advertising, social networking and publishing.

To amend the inequities, the lawmakers recommended restoring competition by effectively breaking up the companies, emboldening the agencies that police market concentration and throwing up hurdles for the companies to acquire start-ups. They also proposed reforming antitrust laws, in the biggest potential shift since the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976 created stronger reviews of big mergers.

“Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation and safeguards our democracy,” Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the judiciary committee, and David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, said in a joint statement.

The House report is the most significant government effort to check the world’s largest tech companies since the government sued Microsoft for antitrust violations in the 1990s. It offers lawmakers a deeply researched road map for turning criticism of Silicon Valley’s influence into concrete actions.

More here.

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2 Comments

  1. While Monopoly’s hold a lot of power in the business world, hence why it is illegal to have an anti-competitive monopoly. In the case of Big Tech here, it’s not even a real monopoly. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are massive but have competitors. Amazon has websites like ebay, Apple has Samsung, Facebook has Twitter, and Google has Bing and Yahoo. Sure they are incredibly successful, but they are not monopolies. These brands succeed because their products and websites are well put together and have become the household names by being quality. These companies should not be punished for being so well put together that the majority of the world’s population prefers them to any of the alternatives. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook on the other hand, may be looking to start a social media Monopoly with the acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram in 2012. This seems more apparent and should be looked into more, because if Facebook bought out it’s other competitors, then no other company can compete.

  2. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have been the biggest names in the tech market for quite some time now. All four of these companies are unique in their own ways. Apple has their smartphones and computers, Amazon has the largest online marketplace in the world, Facebook provides a great social network for people to communicate, and Google allows people to get a response to any question or problem with their speedy search engine. I personally think all of these companies are great. I use all four all the time to purchase products, communicate, or look different things up. However, the House Judiciary Committee condemns these four companies saying that they abuse their monopoly power and urge them to break up. I personally disagree with the House’s decision. It is not these companies’ fault that they formed a monopoly. They provide great products and services to consumers around the world and do it better than any other company out there. It is the people around the country and around the world that love these companies so much because they are the ones that spend the money and keep them in business. I can definitely see why Google, Amazon, and Apple are in the discussion, but I do not necessarily get why Facebook is. I mean after all, it is just a social networking website and there are many other large names in the industry like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn. I really do not think it is fair for the House to decide this. These companies are doing nothing wrong. The only reason the House wants this to happen is so that competition can increase again. An economy always prospers when competition is high in a certain industry. By breaking these companies up, they hope to increase competition again with smaller countries. I personally think that nothing will really happen with this as it is really just the opinion of some people on the Committee. These companies should just carry on with their daily business and should not have to worry about changing their ways because some think they have too much power in the tech industry.

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