After a 16-month antitrust investigation into competitive practices at Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust has released its findings and recommendations on how to reform laws to fit the digital age.
The report concludes that the four “Big Tech” companies enjoy monopoly power and suggest Congress take up changes to antitrust laws that could result in parts of their businesses being separated. Republicans have voiced objections to some of the bolder proposals in the report, like imposing structural separations.
The recommendations from Democratic staff include:
• Imposing structural separations and prohibiting dominant platforms from entering adjacent lines of business. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I. has previously referred to this method as a type of “Glass-Steagall” law for the internet, referring to the 1930s era law that separated commercial from investment banking.
• Instructing antitrust agencies to presume mergers by dominant platforms to be anticompetitive, shifting the burden onto the merging parties to prove their deal would not harm competition, rather than making enforcers prove it would.
• Preventing dominant platforms from preferencing their own services, instead making them offer “equal terms for equal products and services.”
• Requiring dominant firms to make their services compatible with competitors and allow users to transfer their data.
• Overriding “problematic precedents” in antitrust case law.
• Requiring the Federal Trade Commission to regularly collect data on concentration.
• Increase budgets for the FTC and Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
• Strengthen private enforcement by eliminating forced arbitration clauses and limits on class action lawsuits.
The Democratic report found that the four tech companies enjoy monopoly power in the following areas:
• Alphabet/Google: online search.
• Amazon: most third-party sellers and many suppliers.
• Apple: distribution of software apps on iOS devices.
• Facebook: online advertising and social networking.
MacDailyNews Take: So, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are guilty of a monopoly on distribution of software apps on their consoles and devices, too. Ford, BMW, etc. are also guilty of having a monopoly on the distribution of software apps on Ford, BMW, etc. vehicles, respectively.
Apple should not be lumped in with the likes of Alphabet/Google which actually does have a monopoly (which is legal, by the way) and is very likely abusing it (which is subject to antitrust remedies).
The fact is that Apple has no monopoly in smartphones, so Apple is incapable of committing monopoly abuse.
• Android: 74.44%
• iOS: 24.98%
I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market… We are not a monopoly. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2019
As for Google, the biggest offender in “Big Tech,” impose any remedies that restore competition to online search and online advertising.