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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.
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.
The U.S. Justice Department is moving “full-tilt” on its antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc’s Google and other Big Tech platforms. Source: Reuters, August 13, 2020.
Silicon Valley has a potential ally in Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Harris is a California senator who has strong ties to executives behind the nation’s technology giants and has been largely silent about the antitrust issues currently plaguing them. Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2020.
Tech executives and venture capitalists have high hopes Sen. Kamala Harris — Joe Biden’s running mate == will bring a moderate touch to those conversations and to regulating large and small businesses alike. Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2020.
Some Justice Department staffers have expressed internal concerns over plans to bring an antitrust lawsuit against Google —and what they view as an aggressive timeline favored by Attorney General William Barr. Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2020.
Two progressive Democrats tweeted support for legal action against tech giants who break the law, in a rare instance of agreement with the Republican administration amid a polarized political environment. Senator Elizabeth Warren, long a critic of Big Tech, tweeted that Google “uses its size to bully competitors.” Also, the Federal Trade Commission’s Rohit Chopra, a Democratic commissioner, tweeted support for the investigations into “tech titans,” but did not name Google. Source: Reuters, September 11, 2020.
Democratic lawmakers are expected to call on Congress to blunt the power of big technology companies, possibly through forced separation of online platforms, as a House panel concludes its Big Tech probe. The report follows the committee’s collection of more than one million documents from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google. Source: The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2020.
The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee is expected to release a much-anticipated report into antitrust allegations against four of America’s largest tech companies as soon as October 5, 2020. The report will focus on Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google. Source: Reuters, September 29, 2020.
The U.S. House of Representatives antitrust report on Big Tech firms contains a “thinly veiled call to break up” the companies. The House antitrust subcommittee is expected to publish its report this week on Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook and Google owner Alphabet. Source: Reuters, October 5, 2020.
The U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc’s Google on October 20, 2020, accusing the company of illegally using its market power to fend off rivals and said nothing was off the table, including a breakup of the internet search and advertising company. Source: Reuters, October 20, 2020.
Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican and a tough critic of the big tech companies, urged the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to interview some former employees of Facebook as part of its probe of the social media giant. Both the FTC and groups of state attorneys general are widely believed to be planning litigation against Facebook for breaking antitrust law. Source: Reuters, November 12, 2020.
The U.S. Justice Department accused Facebook of discriminating against U.S. workers, saying in a new lawsuit the social media giant has given hiring preferences to temporary workers, including those who hold H-1B visas. Source: Reuters, December 3, 2020.
Facebook could be forced to sell WhatsApp and Instagram after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and nearly every U.S. state filed lawsuits against the social media company. The lawsuits claim Facebook used a “buy or bury” strategy to snap up rivals and keep smaller competitors at bay. Source: Reuters, December 9, 2020.
Texas and nine other states sued Google, accusing it of working with Facebook in an unlawful manner that violated antitrust law to boost its already-dominant online advertising business. Source: Reuters, December 16, 2020.
Facebook and Google agreed to “cooperate and assist one another” if they ever faced an investigation into their pact to work together in online advertising, according to an unredacted version of a lawsuit filed by 10 states against Google last week. Source: The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2020.
Senator Amy Klobuchar has unveiled a plan for how Congress could update antitrust laws to give enforcers better odds and more ammunition for taking on Big Tech and other industries dominated by a handful of mega-corporations. Source: Axios, February 4, 2021.
Congressional Democrats have begun discussions with the White House on ways to crack down on Big Tech including making social media companies accountable for the spread of disinformation on matters such as the U.S. Capitol riot and addressing the abuse of market power to harm corporate rivals. Source: Reuters, February 17, 2021.
Bipartisan members of Congress plan to introduce a bill in coming weeks to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Big Tech platforms, said Rep. Ken Buck, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel. Source: Reuters, February 19, 2021.
Big Tech critic and antitrust hawk Tim Wu is joining the Biden administration to work on technology and competition on the National Economic Council. Source: CNBC, March 5, 2021.
Two advocacy groups called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether apps that Google’s Play Store labels as “Teacher approved” are unlawfully collecting personal data without parental consent to target ads at children. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) cited reports from three separate research groups since June 2020 that concluded Play Store apps aimed at children quietly transmitted data about individual users to other companies. Source: Reuters, March 31, 2021.
Google and Apple executives have agreed to testify before the U.S. Senate on competition issues related to mobile app stores. The testimony is expected April 21, 2021. Source: Reuters, April 11, 2021.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican who has been a staunch critic of Big Tech, said he has introduced a bill that would ban all mergers and acquisitions by any company with a market value greater $100 billion, a category that includes the five biggest U.S. tech companies — Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft. Source: Reuters, April 12, 2021.
The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee formally approved a report accusing Big Tech companies of buying or crushing smaller firms. The report will become the blueprint for legislation to rein in the market power of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Source: Reuters, April 15, 2021.
A U.S. judge dismissed antitrust claims against Alphabet’s Google brought by a group of advertisers, but offered them a chance to try again after addressing what she called “serious concerns.” Source: Reuters, May 12, 2021.
Executives from Google and Amazon will head the list of witnesses for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee the week of June 14, 2021, along with an executive from speaker maker Sonos — which has been critical of the two tech giants. Source: Reuters, June 11, 2021.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced four bills aimed at reining in the power of the tech giants, with one bill potentially leading to Big Tech company break-ups. Source: Reuters, June 11, 2021.
Lina Khan has been named chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Khan is an outspoken critic of Big Tech. As a law student four years ago, Khan published a highly influential paper that recast the debate over anticompetitive behavior, particularly among Big Tech firms. In the paper, titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” Khan argued that using prices as the primary gauge of anticompetitive behavior was an insufficient measure of market power among certain firms, particularly Big Tech companies and their platforms. Source: Ars Technica, June 16, 2021.
Amazon and Google need to offer more details about how their smart-home devices and virtual assistants will support competition and user privacy, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote to the companies. Source: Reuters, June 23, 2021.
Thirty-seven U.S. state and district attorneys general sued Google, alleging the search giant bought off competitors and used restrictive contracts to unlawfully maintain a monopoly for its app store on Android phones. Source: Reuters, July 8, 2021.
Note: Blog originally published July 27, 2020. Updated regularly thereafter.