Smaller tech companies, which often rely on the likes of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon for access to customers and the ability to reach them, are worried about helping in the government’s antitrust probe for fear of retaliation, according to the lawmakers who are spearheading the investigation.
Reuters is reporting that the head of the U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee wants to question smaller tech companies, but it’s running into the fear obstacle when trying to do so. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee started its probe into antitrust and competition practices earlier this month, while the executive branch is also investigating the tech giants.
Representative David Cicilline said on Thursday (June 20) that smaller companies are so dependent on those big four for help that it “makes them concerned about raising their voice, raising concerns about the monopoly power of these platforms.”
“If you look at the size of some of the large platforms, their ability to exclude people from the platform can result in closing the business,” he said. “That’s sort of the most dangerous consequence of this kind of concentration is the ability to exclude rivals, put them out of business, diminish innovation, diminish entrepreneurship, diminish choices for consumers.”
Cicilline also said that he had reached out to the major companies and that they said they were going to participate in the investigation.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department was gearing up to launch an investigation into Google to find out if it engaged in its own antitrust practices.
Reuters, citing two sources familiar with the matter, reported the investigation will focus on whether or not Google gave its owned businesses preference in search queries. The U.S. Department of Justice joins other regulators in going after Google for anti-competitive behaviors. The European Union has already fined Google billions of dollars and called for reforms of how it does business. The impending lawsuit comes as The Washington Post reports the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission inked a deal to split oversight of Google and Facebook. The FTC gets more jurisdiction over Facebook while The Department of Justice gets increased scrutiny of Google.
Google, Facebook, and other technology companies have been facing backlash from lawmakers and regulators around the globe. Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for the breakup of technology titans. In the case of Google, the potential antitrust inquiry stems from complaints from internet companies including Yelp and TripAdvisor. They contend Google favors its own services in search results, which is anti-competitive. Google contends it’s transparent about promoting its own services and that it doesn’t favor any business but is focused on benefiting internet users.