TECHNOLOGY

U.S. regulators eye Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple for potential violations

BY Dan Berthiaume

Somewhere, Elizabeth Warren is smiling.

Multiple news reports indicate that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have agreed to split up antitrust oversight of tech giants Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple.

According to The Washington Post, the FTC will place Amazon under closer scrutiny, although it is not definite whether there will be an investigation. However, the Post reports that this type of enhanced interest from government regulators often precedes some type of probe.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports the DOJ is preparing an antitrust investigation into the Alphabet Inc. unit of Google. Google has been slapped with more than $1.7 billion in fines by European Union (EU) regulators for allegedly anticompetitive practices this year, although the company is appealing them. Previously, Google paid $22.5 million in a civil settlement with the FTC in 2012, and agreed to change some business practices to increase competition in 2013.

The Wall Street Journal reports the FTC will investigate Facebook for antitrust issues, and Reuters reports the DOJ may investigate Apple for unspecified regulatory violations.

Presidential hopeful and Democratic senator from Massachusetts Warren publicly called for the federal government to break up the “monopolies” of Amazon, Google, and Facebook in March 2019. In addition to accusing these three companies of stifling competition by using their market power to pressure smaller companies into mergers, Warren called out their proprietary third-party marketplaces as unfairly limiting completion.

There has not yet been any public comment by any of the tech companies reportedly being investigated or from any government agency.

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