U.S. Representative David Cicilline (D-RI 1st District), who’s leading a high-profile investigation into technology giants and who recently held a congressional antitrust hearing that included Apple, Google-parent Alphabet, Facebook, and Amazon is poised to deliver recommendations as early next month that may lead to an overhaul of antitrust laws.
Cicilline said in an interview Wednesday that his inquiry has confirmed that Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc., Amazon and Facebook are abusing their market power to crush competitors and that Congress must act urgently to rein them in to protect consumers.
“All of these companies engage in behavior which is deeply disturbing and requires Congress to take action,” said Cicilline, the chairman of the House antitrust panel. “The kind of common theme is the abuse of their market power to maintain their market dominance, to crush competitors, to exclude folks from their platform and to earn monopoly rents.”
While he declined to go into detail about the panel’s recommendations, Cicilline said he is working to find common ground with Republicans on the “biggest, boldest ideas I can.”
Cicilline is highly critical of the Justice Department’s and FTC’s track record on antitrust enforcement. Officials in Republican and Democratic administrations haven’t done enough to curb the power of dominant companies, he said. The FTC, in particular, shouldn’t have approved Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, he said.
But even with tougher enforcement by the FTC and the Justice Department, Cicilline said his “gut” is that Congress still needs to update antitrust laws to address court decisions that have made it tougher to win cases and have led to dominant companies that are thwarting competition.
MacDailyNews Take: On, Cicilline is deeply disturbed alright, as evidenced by his inclusion of Apple in his antitrust hearing and investigation, a company that does not hold a monopoly position in any market in which it competes, alongside the likes of a true monopoly abuser like Google.
Leave Apple out of this.
Of the four companies that participated at the hearing, there is one company that is really stifling competition: Google.
When one search engine has 86% share of the worldwide market (and Google basically isn’t even used in China), there is far, far, far too much power concentrated in one company. The whole concept of the World Wide Web is destroyed when a sole gatekeeper basically controls what gets seen, read, and heard. It’s not open, it’s completely closed and controlled.
Publishers who want to be read, for example, spend an inordinate amount of time making sure they follow Google’s dictates, nebulously sussed from Google’s secret algorithm, formatting their sites, even writing their articles a certain way, including certain words they might not choose if allowed to write freely, simply to please Google’s algorithm.
If Google doesn’t like a site (imagine a site that believes Google’s Android is a stolen product and says so repeatedly), Google can hurt that site by, say, excluding that site from the News tab on Google (since 2009), so that the site is more difficult to find, hurting that site’s traffic and ability to generate revenue. (Is there a lawsuit there? Someday we might find out.)
Hopefully, lawmakers can come together to figure out a way to do something to remedy the horribly uncompetitive situation in internet search. Google is, and has been for years, a perfect example of why antitrust laws exist. — MacDailyNews, July 29, 2020