The U.S. government is working with state attorneys general to probe online platforms for possible antitrust violations, Reuters reported on Tuesday (Aug. 20).
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, according to the department’s Antitrust Chief Makan Delrahim.
Delrahim is also looking into any legal protections that should be offered to Facebook, Google and Twitter regarding user-generated content.
Previously approved tech company acquisitions are also part of the antitrust review, which was announced last month in July.
“Those are some of the questions that are being raised … whether those were nascent competitors that may or may not have been wise to approve,” Delrahim told Reuters. “Whether the intention of the incumbent was to purchase some of those competitors, I don’t know. I’m not privy to the facts of each of those investigations.”
While the DOJ never mentioned any company by name, its concerns are aligned with Google search, Facebook’s dominance in social media and Amazon’s position as the country’s eCommerce leader.
“We might be issuing compulsory process on some third parties who may or may not need it for whatever reason to provide more information to us,” Delrahim said.
The DOJ and the government’s other competition agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), planned to intensify their antitrust scrutiny of the tech industry. In doing so, the agencies essentially divvied up oversight of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, a process that sets the stage for investigations into specific business practices at each of those companies.
The multi-state attorneys general composition could provide the investigation with broader leverage. This inquiry followed July reports that the DOJ was opening a new, separate investigation into the potential antitrust activities of tech companies. The separate probe is looking into whether these big-name companies are tapping into their influence and power to stifle competition. The main avenues to be examined are said to be shopping services, social media practices and internet search.