The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have come to an agreement over the jurisdiction of potential antitrust probes into Facebook and Google, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The FTC is going to lead a Facebook investigation, and the DOJ will take the lead in an investigation of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The probes will be over competition concerns.
The Facebook probe will look into whether it has taken part in illegal monopolistic operations, and the Alphabet query will follow a similar path. The two agencies must sometimes work out territory when it comes to who is handling what.
There’s already been an ongoing probe into Facebook by the FTC for more than a year now. That particular inquiry doesn’t delve into whether Facebook is smothering competition, however. The fact that the issue is so sharply focused shows that the government is ready to take a higher level of scrutiny to digital giants.
The FTC also has jurisdiction over Amazon, and The Washington Post reported the eCommerce giant was also under scrutiny. The agreement between the two agencies doesn’t mean that one gets to handle a whole company, but rather that both agencies agree to handle certain issues. Both the DOJ and the FTC have performed oversight of Google and Amazon in the past.
The FTC also recently put together a task force to look at competition at companies like Facebook and Google. The task force was put together to look again at older government decisions that allowed bigger companies to acquire smaller firms, moves that now are clearly seen to have aided in the antitrust issue. One of the main issues being revisited is Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp.
For their part, Facebook and others have said that breaking up tech firms and cracking down on them could stifle the economy and hurt potential growth.