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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” — amid 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.
  • Canada’s competition regulator is looking into Amazon over concerns the e-shopping giant’s practices hurt local companies and consumers. Source: Bloomberg, August 14, 2020.
  • A group of more than 2,000 online sellers has filed an antitrust case against Amazon in India, alleging the U.S. company favors some retailers whose online discounts drive independent vendors out of business. Source: Reuters, August 26, 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.
  • Italy’s antitrust authority has opened an inquiry into Apple, Google and Dropbox over cloud computing services. Source: Reuters, September 7, 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.

Canada: The country’s competition regulator is looking into Amazon over concerns the e-shopping giant’s practices hurt local companies and consumers. Source: Bloomberg, August 14, 2020.


China: China is preparing to launch an antitrust probe into Alphabet Google, looking into allegations it has leveraged the dominance of its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition. Source: Reuters, September 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.
  • The European Union wants to arm itself with new powers to penalize big technology companies, the Financial Times reported. The proposed plan includes forcing tech giants to break up or sell some of their European operations if their market dominance is deemed to threaten the interests of customers and smaller rivals, the newspaper said. Source: Reuters, September 20, 2020.
  • Technology firms’ compliance with European restrictions on transatlantic data transfers is shockingly poor, Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems said, publishing a survey here of companies including Facebook and Netflix. Source: Reuters, September 28, 2020.
  • Alphabet unit Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and other U.S. tech giants could be banned from favoring their services or forcing users to sign up to a bundle of services under draft EU rules aimed at reining in their power. Source: Reuters, September 30, 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.
  • Technology firms’ compliance with European restrictions on transatlantic data transfers is shockingly poor, Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems said, publishing a survey here of companies including Facebook and Netflix. Source: Reuters, September 28, 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.


Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved draft digital antitrust legislation that will give German authorities more tools to combat market abuse by large tech companies. The law, which has yet to be approved by parliament, would expand the powers of the Federal Cartel Office to regulate companies that dominate the Internet economy. The proposed rules would allow the German antitrust regulator to step in if marketplace platforms use the data they collect from smaller businesses through their site to undercut competitors. Source: Bloomberg, September 9, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Justice Department, which has been conducting an antitrust investigation of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, plans to bring a lawsuit against Google as soon as this month. The focus remains on search and advertising. Source: Reuters, September 3, 2020.
  • Italy’s antitrust authority has opened an inquiry into Google, Apple and Dropbox over cloud computing services. Source: Reuters, September 7, 2020.
  • Alphabet’s Google will be questioned about its ad business in a hearing on September 15, 2020, with a particular focus expected on whether it misused its dominance in online advertising to drive profits. Source: Reuters, September 15, 2020.
  • China is preparing to launch an antitrust probe into Alphabet Google, looking into allegations it has leveraged the dominance of its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition. Source: Reuters, September 30, 2020.
  • The U.S. Justice Department is expected to sue Alphabet’s Google as soon as the first week of October 202o, and is currently urging state attorneys general to sign onto the lawsuit. Source: Reuters, September 29, 2020.

Italy: Italy’s antitrust authority has opened an inquiry into Google, Apple and Dropbox over cloud computing services. Source: Reuters, September 7, 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.


Netflix: Technology firms’ compliance with European restrictions on transatlantic data transfers is shockingly poor, Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems said, publishing a survey here of companies including Facebook and Netflix. Source: Reuters, September 28, 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.
  • 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.

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

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