US Big Tech Firms Accused of Monopoly as Congress Finishes Antitrust Report

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The report was the result of increased scrutiny of US tech firms over their sizes and power over the years. The companies were accused of charging high fees, compelling smaller customers into adverse deals, and using “killer acquisitions” against competitors.

Here are the key points of the report:

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  • Amazon was in control of “significant and durable market power” in the online shopping business while promoting it by “anticompetitive conduct in its treatment of third-party sellers”.
  • Apple possessed monopoly power through its App store which it strengthened “to create and enforce barriers to competition and discriminate against and exclude rivals while preferencing its own offerings”.
  • Facebook monopolized in the social networking sector which it kept up by using its data advantage to “acquire, copy or kill” possible threats.
  • Google had a monopoly in the online search and advertising sector using “a series of anti-competitive tactics”, including favoring its own content more than the other websites.

The report suggested surprising changes for the antitrust laws with the aim of encouraging politicians to consider multiple changes to the existing laws. The findings pointed to stronger imposition of the existing competition law, limiting the sectors where a firm may do businesses, and preventing firms from working as players in the domains where they act as the presiding provider of the infrastructure – which Amazon does by acting as both a seller and marketplace for traders.

The Sherman Act (monopoly law) and the Clayton Act (merger law) are the country’s two major antitrust statutes that were passed in 1890 and 1914, respectively. Now, with the comprehensive report suggesting changes to the law, lawmakers would have to deal with rewriting the U.S antitrust laws.

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On the other hand, Republicans raised objections against some of the bolder proposals suggested in the report, including the enforcement of structural separations. According to a draft version gathered by CNBC, Rep. Ken Buck has been in the favor of the antitrust reform and has prepared his own response to the report pointing out the areas of “common ground” and “non-starters”.

As a response to the allegations, Amazon reacted through a blog post saying, “The fact that third parties having the opportunity to sell right alongside a retailer’s products is the very competition that most benefits consumers and has made the marketplace model so successful for third-party sellers”.

Subcommittee member Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., assured that despite the existing legislative tasks that would be at the top of the agenda next year, antitrust reforms will make through it.

“I feel good that we will prioritize this. I think the investigation has laid the groundwork for it and I do think we need to move expeditiously because things do change quickly,” she said.

The fact that has now become clear is the challenges that the Big Tech companies will face when either Biden or Trump is elected.

Source BBC CNBC

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