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Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon are monopolies that need to be more heavily regulated — and potentially broken up — House Democrats said in a sweeping report published Tuesday.
The report concludes that each of the four companies “serves as a gatekeeper over a key channel of distribution” and “can pick winners or losers” throughout the US economy.
The report singles out Facebook’s array of popular social media apps, Google’s dominance in search, Amazon’s control of its marketplace, and Apple’s control over its iOS App Store as potentially monopolistic functions that should be more heavily regulated or potentially separated. It also says regulators should turn more scrutiny towards future acquisitions by the tech companies.
“Companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” lawmakers wrote in the report.
The 449-page report is the result of a yearslong investigation into the four companies led by the House Antitrust Subcommittee that culminated with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, and Apple CEO Tim Cook testifying before Congress in July.
In the report, Democrats slammed the CEOs for dodging questions during the hearing. They also said that companies were slow and uncooperative to provide relevant documents requested outside the hearings.
“Their answers were often evasive and non-responsive, raising fresh questions about whether they believe they are beyond the reach of democratic oversight,” lawmakers wrote.
The report stops short of making specific recommendations as to how the companies should be separated, but says that new laws should be introduced to prevent the companies from operating in adjacent markets. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline has previously called for a “Glass-Steagall” law for the internet, referencing the 1933 law that separated commercial and investment banking.
House Democrats also argue that regulatory bodies like the FEC have previously been severely underfunded and unable to adequately monitor the tech giants, calling for their budgets to be increased.
Republicans on the subcommittee didn’t agree with all of the majority’s conclusions. Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, published a response to the report that objects to Democrats’ calls for separating the companies. But Buck stressed that he supports the drive of the investigation and views the tech companies’ behavior as anticompetitive.
“It is fundamentally anticompetitive to simultaneously serve as the only substantial marketplace operator, including setting terms, policies, and fees; host third-party sellers; and use marketplace data to launch and sell competitive products,” Buck wrote.
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