U.S. Senate Democrats ask for details on antitrust probes into Apple, other tech firms

David Shepardson for Reuters:

Seven U.S. Senate Democrats asked the Trump administration on Friday to disclose details of possible Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department antitrust investigations into Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Apple Inc.

The senators led by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a presidential candidate, said in the letters to FTC Chairman Joe Simons and Justice Department antitrust chief Makan Delrahim that “given the silence of the FTC and the Justice Department, the truth is that we still do not know if these investigations have actually been initiated and neither do the American people.”

The letters were also signed by Patrick Leahy, Richard Blumenthal, Tammy Baldwin, Edward Markey, Tina Smith and Cory Booker – another presidential candidate – who said they were encouraged by the media reports of investigations “but also somewhat troubled that such inquiries were not already well underway.”

MacDailyNews Take: Blah, blah, blah.

Apple is not a monopoly in any market in which they participate. Therefore, there is no legal basis for “breaking up” Apple Inc.

So, Apple’s case, there is no monopoly (which is legal by the way), much less monopoly abuse (which is explicitly impossible given the nonexistence of a monopoly). You cannot abuse a monopoly and therefore face antitrust action when you do not have a monopoly.

Worldwide smartphone OS market share, February 2019:

• Android: 74.15%
• iOS: 23.28%

Again, it’ll be very interesting to see the breakdown of political donations out of Silicon Valley this cycle.

19 Comments

  1. MDN should have stopped after blah. It’s abundantly clear you have zero firsthand knowledge of antitrust law, you’re terminally stuck in the mode of encouragement for petty partisan rancor, and you would be happy to let Apple get away with murder. If Apple and the other SillyCon liberal fat cats aren’t abusing antitrust law, they have nothing to worry about. Meanwhile STF up and let the people’s representatives do their job.

      1. You must be a fan of the Belt and Road initiative.

        Xi is an autocratic who removed the constitutional reforms of his predecessor to, among other things, remove term limits so he can remain Premier for life, just like Chairman Mao. What did the democratically elected president of the USA say to that?

        “He’s now president for life, president for life. And he’s great,” Trump said at a closed-door fundraiser in Florida. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday,” Trump said to cheers and applause from supporters.

        Do Trump’s supporters understand why term limits are necessary, and why every remaining democratic republic left enforces them? Apparently not. Single party rule à la China is their goal, based on their rhetoric attempting to cast anyone outside their cult as a traitor, terrorist, or worse.

        How exactly is corruption of the single party authoritarian state discovered? Why journalists and opposing groups of course. Which is precisely why autocrats and the most corrupt parties use every opportunity to attack free press, which neither Xi nor Trump respect. Two dictator wannabes from the same pod. Except Xi is succeeding whereas Trump is merely sucking. Enjoy your tariffs, Trumpovs. You get the lack if leadership you selected.

    1. “let the people’s representatives do their job.”
      Been waiting for them to do their job on privacy issues by Facebook and Google for years. Google since 1990’s.

      they did squat until Facebook blew up last election and still haven’t done much.

      Meanwhile they drag Apple into investigations because Apple is a recognizable name and it’s election time.

      People are vaguely uncomfortable about tech companies right now due to the press on Facebook etc but the voters don’t really understand it. The politicians know this , that discussing interfaces of tech privacy is too intricate to get voters , so for election click bait they scream “Apple! Apple !”

      Did the same thing with Apple in the ebook Case. Amazon controls 70-80% of ebook business but the politicians made the DOJ go after Apple as beating (“rich evil one percent”) Apple gets votes and everybody loves Amazon (“the supplier of the little guy” ).

      (as for them knowing what to do) See Yale’s : How Apple v. Amazon was Misjudged.

      1. On PED30, Phillip E Dewitt, former TIME and FORTUNE tech journalist (the dude who could get personal interviews with Jobs) latest blog post deals with this issue.

        PED wrote to Senator Ed Markey and pointedly asked:

        “Why Apple?”.

        What he got back in reply to why the Senator was going around making public statements against the Biggest USA Taxpayer Apple (i.e it’s a real big issue ) was…..

        “Dear Philip:

        Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.

        Your comments are important to me, and I will keep your views in mind as I work on the issues that affect Massachusetts and our country.

        You are welcome to call my Boston Office at ——— if you need help with a specific problem related to the federal government or to request assistance in applying for federal grants. You may also call my Washington, DC office at ———- to request a tour, to have a flag flown over the US Capitol, or to comment on legislative matters.”

        “request a tour” . LOL.

        Please note this is reply to one of the top tech journalists in USA about a big issue: Investigating the biggest corporations in USA: Apple , Google etc.

        It’s just boilerplate …

        “request a tour, to have a flag flown… ”

        Shows how little thought they have about dragging the BIGGEST TAX PAYER Apple into a mess. They are OK with making statements left and right about Apple investigation and yet when asked ‘Why?” not only did the Senator didn’t reply personally, he doesn’t even have a STANDARD freaking POSITIONAL STATEMENT about why they are asking for an investigation.

        Is there any doubt they are dragging Apple in for the SOUND BITE and MAKING UP A CASE AS THE GO ALONG? They attack but apparently didn’t even really thought out ‘Why’ . Attack Apple first to get the voters , the reason doesn’t really seem to matter.

        Shoot I don’t think they Senator even knows what an App Store IS.

        LOL. ” let the people’s representatives do their job.”.

        Please note : I’m not making a partisan statement of Dem vs Repubs, I’m just showing a specific issue : the Apple investigation.

        to the Dems Politicos out there:
        hate D Trump? Want to beat him?
        Then be MORE MORAL, be MORE FACTUAL, MORE UPRIGHT, but no they are going for the social media gutter sound bite.

        As election closes I have zero doubt they would focus on Apple and leave Google , Facebook alone as they fear the latter’s social media power.

        1. All the down votes,

          yet nobody is countering why my comments are wrong, that the politicians actions are worrisome and all indications show their attacks on Apple are based more on getting media attention than actually warranted.

          They are making very inflammatory and very damaging press statements that Apple should be Broken Up, should be Investigated. Yet when pointedly asked ‘Why’ , have no answer.

          So people who down vote you are agreeing with these politicians actions ?
          What does that tell about YOU ?
          By sugar coating the actions of those you support aren’t you as bad as what you think ‘the other side’ is doing?

          Politicians are counting on this, your moral-less loyalty, that today morals or accuracy is not important , just the corralling lemmings with the biggest click bait sound bite.

          so if these people win elections in the future, they are worthy? they are better than the ‘other guy’ ?

          (like I said I’m not partisan , I’m not ‘name calling’ , I’m just stating facts relating to the crusade against Apple).

    2. You are clearly a moron, aka a Democrat. Learn anti-trust definitions. Your most impressive feature is the confidence you exude with absolutely now knowledge. You should not be permitted to vote.

      1. if all you do is soak your head in Fox koolaide, you think it’s rational to declare your partisan jousting buddies traitors, support Trump’s proposal to violate the constitution and overstay his term limits like a wannabe dictator, and blame all things happening today on the blue donkeys that haven’t been around for over two years. Always an excuse to cover up the endless lies and smokescreens of the Trumpov crime syndicate. Zero deference for rule of law or the constitution that grants all people, even those smarter than you, the right to speak and write things you don’t want to believe. Partisan attacks is all you see from extremists, with the most fact free BS coming from the paranoid righties. Lefties simply want to live like Canadians, but with warm winters. Constitutionality isn’t important to extremes righties. Only power, or the figurehead who endlessly claims to have it.

        Teddy Roosevelt, perhaps the greatest president ever, saw the need to enforce the Sherman Antitrust Act to provide actual competition and therefore a check against economic traitors and robber barons who literally ripped off anyone they chose to with impunity. He genuinely cared for the people, literally going undercover as a policeman to bust organized political crime while commissioner of the NYPD. Today the republican rabble is satisfied with meaningless acronym slogans tweeted after TV Time from the laziest person to ever inhabit the White House as proven by his publicly available schedule which seldom if ever starts before 11am and almost always ends by 5 pm or Tee time, whichever comes first. Doofus Donny doesn’t see corporate corruption or power because he’s in the position to profit from it. Swamp creatures have never had it better! This president doesn’t even believe in running proposed legislation over to Mitch, he literally tweets whatever harebrained policy he hears from tough sounding talking heads WHO ARE ALL BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. Fox media, just like all media, is selling what the billionaire oligarchs want to sell. Arms to murderous Saudi Arabians. Steel walls at inflated steel prices for Trump’s construction buddies. Military software for Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Rising gasoline prices for domestic oil producers by beating the Middle East hornets nest. Scaring citizens into voting for more military largesse to counter Trump’s good friends in North Korea who by the way still have everything they need to nuke America. The list of corrupt misguided public policies driven by corrupt companies, some not even American, is at an all time high. Even thise companies that viscerally hate Trump are using him as cover to cement their power. Apple hasn’t moved any production out of China, most supply chains affected by tariffs are simply adding repackaging operations in Taiwan. Trade wars are so easy to win, sorry US Consumers, you lose. And you have dwindling choice in practically everything that you think counts as a win.

        US corporations don’t give a rats ass about America. They back Dtrump because he’s a Keystone cop. Theft is easy under this administration Which is exactly what Google and Facebook do with your data, steal it and sell it. Ask everyone on the planet what online advertising platform one should use. MDN will tell you. Monopoly? Well you decide.

        Let’s say you’re an underwater farmer. After 8 years of supposed hell on earth under Obama, have these last 2 years fixed everything? are you better off today? Be honest. Do you own a tractor? As end consumer, you must love it as your equipment costs drive younto bankruptcy even if the climate chane wasn’t affecting you as well. What do you do when the manufacturer decides that your product must be bundled with a service contract that in the fine print restricts you from doing anything to that tractor? It happens by degrees but the direction is clear. Independent services are actively being killed off. All parts, lubricants, servicing, software updates must be performed by the factory tech. Get in line every spring planting season and pay whatever the manufacturer charges to enable another year of service. Don’t bother to sell the tractor. It’s bricked without a service contract and warranty is non transferrable. And if you think about buying the other brand of tractor, well lookie here, Mfr. B is doing the same thing. New entrants are kept out of the market by tariffs, written and sponsored by the manufacturers swamp creatures. Surprise surprise. Two manufacturers chopped up the market in half and guaranteed each other constant revenue by exerting regional monopoly and congressional corruption. If you think this is okay, then you are willfully ignorant of how this corrupt administration, like the others before it, have outsourced the free market in order to enrich their campaign funders. Transparency— not in any recent administration and certainly not from the obstructionist idiots from both parties in Congress

        It is ironic then that the same laws the greatest Republicans of all time used to create the middle class of America is now being slammed by self serving chicken hawk NeoCon Trupovs. How dare America have to compete on a global market! How dare multinationals have to follow rules like citizens do! Oh how terrible for companies to have to pay living wages to buoying all boats, why don’t we all simply bob our heads to the tripe the billionaires script for Fox News to dumb down the dependent classes. As long as we look tough, and Wall Street gamblers keep pumping the market, all is good, right? Oh, except the working classes who are slipping into poverty.

        Don’t call them welfare farmers, call them people willing to give up freedom for the bizarre promises of a carnival barker who has gone bankrupt more times than any leader in history. What is the end goal? Is 80% of wealth in the hands of the top ~1000 American oligarchs not obscene enough? Are we trying to return to the wild west when America was primarily comprised of 3 classes: Elites who owned industry and plantations or both, substinence workers who worked in sweatshops or agriculture until they died, and slaves. America was really really great then. Let’s empower Zuck and Cook and the buys to extract more cash from Americans while hiding it in offshore tax havens. Lower the corporate tax rates and then tell workers they got a good deal. Ignore the reality that in return for electronic gadgetry and games, tough rhetoric and military bluster, the US is digging its grave with debt. Student debt. Credit card debt. Unregulated Payday Loan debt. Offensive Foreign War debt. But not trade imbalance. Because the trade imbalance is not debt. Americans imported Chinese Apple products and sent Timmy Cook a check which partially went into his personal Jersey Isles bank, and partly went to the Chinese. That is how multinational corporations have set up trade. Trump has done nothing to make it better for the US working class.

        1. “if all you do is soak your head in Fox koolaide”

          Obviously, you soak your head in CNN “koolaide.”

          Please tell the rest of the class viewship ratings for Fox compared to CNN.

          Not even close, but thanks for playing…

        2. you post has so much screwy urban legend and conspiracy theory it’s hard to even start to comment on it.

          Take :
          “Let’s empower Zuck and Cook and the buys to extract more cash from Americans while hiding it in offshore tax havens. Lower the corporate tax rates and then tell workers they got a good deal. Ignore the reality that in return for electronic gadgetry and games, tough rhetoric and military bluster, the US is digging its grave with debt.”

          Apple pays all tax on products sold in USA in USA. It’s tax rate is in the 20-30% range. It’s the largest tax payer in the USA.

          the off shore ‘tax havens’ you refer to perhaps is Ireland. Monies from sales in Europe go there as by EU rules you can use any EU country as a base and Ireland had the lowest tax rate. All legal. Apple was following EU rules when EU changed the interpretation mid course and put a big fine on Apple. Before people say Apple did something illegal NOTE: Ireland protested the fine.

          AND
          “80% of wealth in the hands of the top ~1000 American oligarchs not obscene enough”

          What has this got to do with Apple?

          70% of All Apple stock is owned by mutual funds etc, i.e owned by small investors (like myself and I hardly consider myself the top 1000 americans. ) . If you have a 401 or mutual fund you probably own Apple stock. Unless of course you’ve decided to save nothing.
          Even Warren Buffet’s holding are for his investment fund which people can buy into. Each share I believe is expensive, over 100K but that’s hardly top 1000 American range.

          Politicians realize all this urban myth garbage about Apple and thus pick on it.

          Over the years when people go crazy about this ‘lets punish the 1%’ the result is usually a loss to the WORKING middle class. For example : attack Apple, tax it more or whatever and people will have shrunken 401s and mutual funds savings. Unless of course like i said you are one of those who refuse to work or save.

    3. “Meanwhile STF up and let the people’s representatives do their job.”

      You actually believe the Democrats are doing their job for the people?

      Examples: Like the record homeless in LA, feces in the streets of San Francisco and the record illegals crossing the border? “Do their job?”

      Their job in those three cases is to do NOTHING and their policies and hands off approach helped to make a bad situation WORSE.

      The only “people’s representatives” job for the Democrats TODAY is spending millions of wasted taxpayer dollars 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in their hate filled crusade to take down our great President who turned around the economy to many record heights.

      Get a grip…

      1. Do you actually believe that anybody chooses to defecate in the streets? Might that be because the number of homeless in the Bay Area is climbing? Might that be because the median rent for an apartment with less than 800 square feet is $3609/month, making housing affordable only for families with incomes of greater than $130,000/year? Might that be due to the fact that in many parts of the country the only record heights being achieved are in the cost of living, versus an essentially static income picture for working people and a completely static picture for retirees? Can a very stable genus really be that blind to reality?

    1. What does that make the idiots who vote for their incessant obvious lying strongmen carnival barkers? Are Americans across the political spectrum all strung out like Limbaugh on opioids?

      We live in a very interesting time where lies have taken over all public discourse and the remaining independent media that isn’t in bed with dictators & oligarchs around the world has given up disproving the lies, their only interest is to sell google ads. The public is too lazy and stupid to ask for verification of outlandish claims, they long ago became blind cult members to one extreme or the other. That is how America got weak and Trump has made it weaker. NOT GREATER. Does a football team win when 8 of the 11 players are at each other’s throats blaming each other for missed tackles and dropped passes?

      But it is worse also due to social media addiction. Facebook and Twitter are happy to broadcast Putin and Xi’s propaganda, corporate leaders don’t care.

      When people give up independent thought and respect for their fellow countrymen, the decline is fast. People conditioned to cheer for a corrupt team whose only interest is power and profit, well that is how oligarchs and their corporate divisions and political media networks always win. So the man with the most lies (by objective analysis on all sides) is installed in the white house and there has been nothing positive done in 2 years of Republican rule — no health reform, no term limits for corrupt representatives, no spending decreases, no immigration reform. the one and only major bill passed was a tax giveaway to multinational corporations that happily hide their money overseas. A REWARD TO OLIGARCHS. Now the CEOs all buy their own stock because they are too stupid to think of what else to do with the obscene cash flows. New US factories? Where are they? Must need more trickledown huh? Wages stagnant, Billionaires happy. Feels like 2007 all over. All we need is to shovel out more stimulus, tens of billions to farmers isn’t enough.

      As we all know, dumbass politicians fall over themselves to give tax giveaways to the likes of Amazon and Apple in an attempt to have something to brag about come re-election time. Is the purpose of citizens to serve the unlimited international growth and political power of corporations, or is the purpose of the corporation to provide efficient use of natural resources for the long term prosperity of all people, as defined by the charters that are supposed to put limits to corporate largesse. Americans are apparently too stupid to answer that honestly. No surprise, corporations fill their naïve little heads with lies, constantly, all the way from Moscow and definitely including Individual #1 who knowingly acts as butt boy for oligarchs and dictators from Saudi Arabia to North Korea. It was a big beautiful letter, right?

      By any objective psychological analysis, the politicians in power today are psychotic. Not my assessment, but by professional judgement: https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/psychosis

      1. You BET we’re all stupid letting these same type of personal agenda driven monkeys back into office. Working for the people seems to be mostly lip service as they are stuffing their wallets full with ill-gotten gains,

  2. Wall Street doesn’t value Apple as having a monopoly but yet the government considers Apple a monopoly. Double standards for Apple. It’s so frustrating. Apple doesn’t catch a break. Supposedly, Apple has a little monopoly, the App Store, but I’m not sure I understand how that works.

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