The Department of Justice announced a review of the technology industry to find out whether there are violations of antitrust laws that hurt competition. The agency announced the review Tuesday but provided scant details on what it will entail.
No company is named in the announcement but DOJ says it will review “market-leading online platforms” with a focus on “search, social media, and some retail services online.” It’s safe to assume that the most powerful players in those industries, namely Google, Facebook, and Amazon, will be under the microscope.
Related: House antitrust chair ‘troubled’ by tech hearing, sends letters demanding clarity from Amazon, Facebook and Google
Those three companies, as well as Apple, testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust wing last week. On Tuesday, the subcommittee’s chair, Rep. David Cicilline, sent follow-up letters to Amazon, Facebook, and Google demanding more clarity on issues raised during the hearing.
The DOJ investigation will review how top U.S. tech companies ascended to power and whether they are “engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.” If the department finds violations, it says it will take the appropriate measures to remedy them.
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said the Justice Department’s antitrust lead, Makan Delrahim, in a statement. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
Amazon declined to comment on the DOJ probe. A Google spokesperson referred to prepared remarks delivered by the company’s director of economic policy, Adam Cohen, during the antitrust hearing. Facebook could not immediately be reached to comment.
The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have already sought clearance to launch an inquiry into Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple. The review announced Tuesday leaves the door open to examine a broader range of companies.
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