The United States Department of Justice announced that the Department’s Antitrust Division is reviewing whether and how market-leading platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.
The Department’s review will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online. The Department’s Antitrust Division is conferring with and seeking information from the public, including industry participants who have direct insight into competition in online platforms, as well as others.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the inquiry by the Justice Department add “a new Washington threat for companies such as Facebook Inc., Google, Amazon.com Inc., and Apple Inc.”
CNBC reported: “The move is the strongest by Attorney General William Barr towards Big Tech, which faces increased scrutiny from both political parties because of the expanded market power the companies have and the tremendous amount of consumer data they control”.
CNBC also reported that shares of Facebook, Alphabet, and Amazon all fell more than 1% immediately after the announcement and that Apple’s stock also dropped.
This follows the European Commission’s antitrust investigation to assess whether Amazon’s use of sensitive data from independent retailers who sell on Amazon’s marketplace is in breach of EU competition rules.
It seems to me that the more investigations that happen, the less likely it is that all of these big tech companies will come away from this without facing penalties, fines, or requirements that they make changes.