Current antitrust laws are “flexible enough” to handle issues caused by technology firms, said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Reuters reported on Saturday (Nov. 9).
“Some have suggested changing the antitrust laws, creating new agencies or even regulating the conduct of some firms … it bears repeating that our existent framework is flexible enough to detect harm in any industry and emerging ones,” Delrahim said at an antitrust conference at Harvard Law School hosted by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). The membership roster for the CCIA includes Amazon, Facebook and Google, among others.
Against a backdrop of comprehensive inquiries, the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are being criticized by lawmakers for debating which agency should probe which tech company.
Delrahim also cautioned that there could be competition concerns by regulators over data collected by tech companies.
European antitrust regulators have expressed concerns similar to Delrahim’s comments and have already punished tech companies for using consumer data in anti-competitive ways.
“Although privacy fits primarily within the realm of consumer protection law, it would be a grave mistake to believe that privacy concerns can never play a role in antitrust analysis,” Delrahim said.
It was first announced in August that the U.S. government was working with state attorneys general to probe online platforms for possible antitrust violations. The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division said it could ask Silicon Valley companies for documents in its investigation of Big Tech’s market power of major technology.
Previously approved tech company acquisitions are also part of the antitrust review, which was announced in July.
While the DOJ never mentioned any company by name, its concerns are aligned with Google’s search, Facebook’s dominance in social media and Amazon’s position as the country’s eCommerce leader.