Department of Justice's Antitrust Division launches big tech investigation
Without naming any names, the Department of Justice has announced today that its Antitrust Division is to launch an investigation into the practices of "market-leading online platforms".
The probe comes amid concerns that the big names in technology are "engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers". While the DoJ has not officially named any of the companies it is planning to look into as part of its investigation, the likes of Facebook, Google (or Alphabet) and Amazon are likely to feature prominently.
The Department says that the investigation -- or "review" as it calls it -- will take into account the "widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online". It is the wording here that makes it fairly clear which companies will be included.
Announcing the probe, the DoJ says:
The goal of the Department's review is to assess the competitive conditions in the online marketplace in an objective and fair-minded manner and to ensure Americans have access to free markets in which companies compete on the merits to provide services that users want. If violations of law are identified, the Department will proceed appropriately to seek redress.
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division explains: "Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands. The Department's antitrust review will explore these important issues".