House lawmakers are looking to crack down on several tech companies for their abuse of monopoly power. In fact, they are now calling for changes to antitrust laws to combat the misuse of power.
After 15 months of investigating the practices of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, a 449-page report was presented by the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic leadership. In the report, the Democrats outlined how the four tech giants had transformed from “scrappy” start-ups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”
According to the New York Times, lawmakers believe that the companies consistently abused their power by often dictating prices and rules for commerce, search, advertising, social networking, and publishings.
“The totality of the evidence produced during this investigation demonstrates the pressing need for legislative action and reform,” the report said. “These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement.”
To remedy the inequalities, lawmakers have proposed legal changes that could restructure Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. They have also laid out a reform to antitrust laws, which would be the biggest antitrust reform since the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976. In addition to the House investigation, antitrust investigations are also underway for Amazon, Apple, and Facebook at the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and with four dozen state attorneys general.
Now, Democrats are asking Congress to consider making it illegal for the tech corporations to provide preferential treatment to their own products, as Google does in search results, or to compete directly with other companies that use their platforms, which is what Amazon does with its marketplace. Republicans agreed with most of the proposals but did not see it necessary for Congress to intervene.
“I agree with about 330 pages of the majority’s report,” said Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck before saying that he could not agree with consumer lawsuits and dismantling of the companies.