The House Judiciary Committee is pushing forward with an investigation into possible antitrust violations by Big Tech, adding to the mounting legal issues for several Silicon Valley-based titans.
“On Friday, lawmakers from the House Judiciary Committee asked Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google parent company Alphabet to share sensitive documents, including confidential communications between top-level executives, that detail their internal operations,” according to Engadget.
The companies have about a month – until October 14 – to fulfill the request from the committee, Chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), in what is shaping up to be a rare bipartisan effort on behalf of lawmakers to tackle an issue that affects nearly all Americans.
“Broadly speaking, the subcommittee wants to understand whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google engaged in anti-competitive practices and whether the executives at those companies knew what was happening,” the report said.
In order to determine whether the companies might be in violation of antitrust laws, they have asked for specific documentation – an example of which being Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s communications about potential competitors Snapchat and Vine. Vine was eventually acquired by Twitter. The Committee also asked for information about the decisions leading up to Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Similarly, the Committee asked for documentation leading up to Google’s purchases of YouTube and navigation application Waze. Waze is a direct competitor to Google’s own navigation application Google Maps, which is native to Android devices.
“This information is key in helping determine whether anticompetitive behavior is occurring, whether our antitrust enforcement agencies should investigate specific issues and whether or not our antitrust laws need improvement to better promote competition in the digital markets,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) reportedly said.
Meanwhile, known Trump-hater Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said the request for information was an “important milestone in this investigation.”
It’s nice to see us all getting along for once, especially to the detriment of Big Tech, which has been known for silencing conservatives by kicking them off their platforms for sharing facts and ordinary conservative viewpoints under dubious “terms of service” violations. Our own Laura Loomer has been kicked off of Facebook and Instagram for being “dangerous,” and booted off of Twitter for calling Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) “anti-Jewish,” which is a fact. She is suing them both privately – Facebook for $3 billion in damages.
Last week, we reported on the mounting legal troubles for Big Tech as attorneys general in New York, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia all opened antitrust investigations into Facebook, again for alleged unfair trade practices.
Just days later attorneys general from 50 states and territories announced another bipartisan investigation into alleged antitrust violations made by Google.
“We’ve heard hundreds of those stories from individuals with small businesses, large businesses — there’s a lot of concern out there,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, told POLITICO in reference to Google. “This isn’t something the [attorneys general] made up. This is an organic thing all of us have had questions about.”
As the powers in Silicon Valley have grown to unimaginable levels of dominance and power, it is likely that similar investigations will pop up in the future.