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Big Tech Antitrust Investigations: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google Updates

Regulators and government officials worldwide continue to closely scrutinize big  technology companies — i.e., “Big Tech” — and potential anti-competitive concerns.

The central question: Have companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Alphabet’s Google, and Microsoft become too powerful or do they maintain anti-competitive practices in such markets as:

  • e-commerce;
  • app stores;
  • social media;
  • Internet search; and/or
  • cloud services?

Note: This blog tracks those issues and more. Blog originally published July 27, 2020. Updated regularly thereafter.



Amazon: Multiple updates…

  • CEO Jeff Bezos will make his first-ever appearance before Congress on July 29. In recent years, Bezos has granted few extended interviews to journalists and has seldom faced the kind of adversarial questions he is likely to get from lawmakers on the House Antitrust Subcommittee. He is set to testify via videoconference alongside CEOs from Apple Inc., Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. Source: The Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2020.
  • Here’s a transcript of what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plans to tell the U.S. House of Representatives during a congressional hearing on antitrust concerns. Source: ChannelE2E, July 29, 2020.
  • As Apple and Amazon.com worked toward a high-profile distribution deal at least a couple of years ago, one proposal on the table was for Apple to have “competing ads removed from search” results on Amazon, according to documents released from a U.S. House of Representatives investigation. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.
  • Attorneys general from New York and California are partnering with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Amazon.com Inc.’s online marketplace, according to people familiar with the matter. Source: Bloomberg, August 3, 2020.

Apple: Multiple updates…

  • Multiple U.S. states are investigating Apple for potentially deceiving consumers, according to a March document obtained by a tech watchdog group know as the Tech Transparency Project. Source: Reuters, July 23, 2020.
  • As Apple and Amazon.com worked toward a high-profile distribution deal at least a couple of years ago, one proposal on the table was for Apple to have “competing ads removed from search” results on Amazon, according to documents released from a U.S. House of Representatives investigation. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.

Australia: Multiple updates…

  • Australia’s competition regulator on July 27, 2020, accused Alphabet’s Google of misleading consumers to get permission for use of their personal data for targeted advertising, seeking a fine “in the millions” and aiming to establish a precedent. Source: Reuters, July 26, 2020.
  • Australia’s government has ordered Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to share revenue generated from news articles, adding to growing global regulatory and political pushback against the digital giants. Source: Bloomberg, July 30, 2020.

European Union: Multiple updates…

  • Microsoft may find itself in EU antitrust regulators’ crosshairs yet again after U.S. workspace messaging app Slack Technologies complained about the company embedding its workplace chat and video app Teams in its Office product. Source: Reuters, July 22, 2020.
  • Facebook is suing European Union (EU) antitrust regulators for seeking information beyond what is necessary, including highly personal details, for their investigations into the company’s data and marketplace, the U.S. social media group said. Source: Reuters, July 27, 2020.


Facebook: Multiple updates…

  • Regulation intended to address the news industry’s problems with Google and Facebook could have adverse consequences, said outgoing New York Times Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson in an interview. Source: Reuters, July 23, 2020.
  • Facebook is suing European Union (EU) antitrust regulators for seeking information beyond what is necessary, including highly personal details, for their investigations into the company’s data and marketplace, the U.S. social media group said. Source: Reuters, July 27, 2020.
  • Facebook has won the first round of its court battle against what it says are excessive demands from European Union antitrust regulators after Europe’s second-top court temporarily halted such requests until it makes a final ruling. Source: Reuters, July 28, 2020.
  • Here’s a transcript of what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to say during a congressional hearing focused on Big Tech antitrust concerns. Source: ChannelE2E, July 29, 2020.
  • Google and Facebook took particularly sharp jabs for alleged abuse of their market power from Democrats and Republicans in a much-anticipated congressional hearing that put four of America’s most prominent tech CEOs in the hot seat. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.
  • Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg stumbled at a congressional hearing on alleged abuse of market power, as lawmakers confronted the social media titan with damaging internal emails about the company’s acquisitions. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.

France: France’s newly-appointed Environment Minister Barbara Pompili said she would push to pause the development of warehouses used by online businesses such as Amazon, in a possible setback for the e-commerce giant. Source: Reuters, July 23, 2020.


Google and Alphabet: Multiple updates…

  • Regulation intended to address the news industry’s problems with Google and Facebook could have adverse consequences, said outgoing New York Times Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson in an interview. Source: Reuters, July 23, 2020.
  • Australia’s competition regulator on July 27, 2020, accused Alphabet’s Google of misleading consumers to get permission for use of their personal data for targeted advertising, seeking a fine “in the millions” and aiming to establish a precedent. Source: Reuters, July 26, 2020.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel will hold a hearing on September 15 to discuss Google’s dominance in online advertising, Republican Senator Mike Lee said. Source: Reuters, July 27, 2020.
  • Google and Facebook took particularly sharp jabs for alleged abuse of their market power from Democrats and Republicans in a much-anticipated congressional hearing that put four of America’s most prominent tech CEOs in the hot seat. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.
  • Google’s $2.1 billion bid for fitness tracker maker Fitbit will face a full-scale EU antitrust investigation next week, people familiar with the matter said. Source: Reuters, July 30, 2020.

Microsoft: Microsoft may find itself in EU antitrust regulators’ crosshairs yet again after U.S. workspace messaging app Slack Technologies complained about the company embedding its workplace chat and video app Teams in its Office product. Source: Reuters, July 22, 2020.



United States: Multiple updates…

  • A much-anticipated deep dive into antitrust allegations against four of America’s largest tech companies — Facebook, Amazon.com, Google parent Alphabet, and Apple — and recommendations on how to tame their market power could be released by late summer or early fall from the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, senior committee aides said. Source: Reuters, July 24, 2020.
  • A U.S. congressional hearing scheduled for this week to question the chief executives of Facebook, Amazon.com, Google parent Alphabet, and Apple has been officially delayed, the Judiciary Committee said on July 24. Source: Reuters, July 24, 2020.
  • The biggest U.S. technology companies have gone on a buying spree this year, waving off intense scrutiny from competition watchdogs and critics who say they’ve bolstered their power by snatching up nascent rivals. The number of acquisitions by the five largest companies — Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc., and Microsoft Corp. — came at the fastest pace through June since 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Source: Bloomberg, July 27, 2020.
  • Republican Senator Josh Hawley introduced legislation that would penalize large tech companies that sell or show targeted advertisements by threatening a legal immunity enjoyed by the industry – the latest onslaught on Big Tech’s business practices. Source: Reuters, July 28, 2020.
  • Here’s a transcript of what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos plans to tell the U.S. House of Representatives. And here’s a transcript of what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to tell the committee. Bezos and Zuckerberg are appearing at a congressional hearing about Big Tech and antitrust concerns. Source: ChannelE2E, July 29, 2020.
  • Google and Facebook took particularly sharp jabs for alleged abuse of their market power from Democrats and Republicans in a much-anticipated congressional hearing that put four of America’s most prominent tech CEOs in the hot seat. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.
  • Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg stumbled at a congressional hearing on alleged abuse of market power, as lawmakers confronted the social media titan with damaging internal emails about the company’s acquisitions. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.
  • As Apple and Amazon.com worked toward a high-profile distribution deal at least a couple of years ago, one proposal on the table was for Apple to have “competing ads removed from search” results on Amazon, according to documents released from a U.S. House of Representatives investigation. Source: Reuters, July 29, 2020.
  • The chief executives of Amazon.com, Facebook, Apple and Alphabet’s Google faced relentless criticism at a congressional hearing, with Democrats and Republicans alike challenging their business practices over more than five contentious hours. Source: The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2020.

Note: Blog originally published July 27, 2020. Updated regularly thereafter.

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