U.S. Attorney General William Barr said that he wants the government probes into big tech companies completed by 2020, according to a report Tuesday (Dec. 9) by Reuters.
The Justice Department probes into Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon involve antitrust issues as well as concerns over data collection and how it’s used. Several government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, are working on investigations into the four big tech companies.
“We started in earnest in July. It’s been moving very quickly,” Barr said. “We’re talking very broadly with people and getting a lot of input from people in the industry and experts and so forth. I’d like to have it completed some time next year. I think it’s important to move quickly on things. These things have a cost to the marketplace and businesses. I think at some point the government has to fish or cut bait.”
Barr said that while the probe was a broad one, antitrust issues form the crux of the investigation.
“The question is that when you have the kind of market power that some companies have in their market, then some conduct that may have made sense when they were the insurgent company in a growing industry can become anti-competitive because it ends up fortifying the monopoly,” he said.
Barr previously worked for Verizon Communications, and he said that it was important to also see that these types of companies also provide large benefits to customers, especially when it comes to telecommunications.
“Big is not bad,” he said. “I think in certain network industries you can be too Balkanized and no one has the scale necessary for the kind of innovation that we’re seeing.”
The Department of Justice probe is moving forward regardless of other probes covering the same information, like the FTC, but Facebook is definitely in the crosshairs of both.