Policymakers Press Big Tech On Use Of Personal Data

tech behemoths, big tech, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, privacy, acquisitions, investigations, FTC, House Antitrust Subcommittee, news

Big Tech is under siege about its failure to respect users’ privacy as the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee expressed frustration over the companies’ many acquisitions, Reuters reported on Wednesday (Nov. 13).

Antitrust enforcers are probing tech behemoths Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.

At a hearing of the antitrust subcommittee on Wednesday, head Makan Delrahim said they were focusing on how personalized advertising transactions work. 

“By understanding these competitive dynamics, we can understand how the market leaders have monopoly power, how they exercise that monopoly power and whether the source of that power is for merit-based competition or the source of that power is exclusionary,” Delrahim said.

Similar inquiries are also underway at the Justice Department and by the attorneys general of dozens of states. 

The Justice Department and the committee are looking into all four companies while the FTC is investigating Facebook and Amazon. State attorneys general are probing Google and Facebook.

“We continue to coordinate with the state AGs on both of the matters that have been made public,” said Delrahim.

Subcommittee Rep. David Cicilline specifically pointed at Google about its continuous acquisitions — like the recent Fitbit and Looker — amid antitrust investigations.

“The hubris of the executive team to pursue an acquisition of this size,” he said, referring to its $2.1 billion bid for Fitbit, “while under federal and state antitrust investigations is astonishing.”

Several watchdog groups asked the FTC on Wednesday to block the deal.

“Google knows more about us than any other company, and it should not be allowed to add yet another way to track our every move,” they said in a letter.

GOP subcommittee member Rep. Doug Collinson warned against punishing success.

“Companies that offer new innovations, better solutions and more consumer benefits at lower prices often become big — to the benefit of society. Proposals to break up big companies because of their size alone risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.

Cicilline said last month that he anticipates having a final report in early 2020 about big technology companies and any breaches of antitrust law.