Senate Antitrust Panel Turns Attention To Big Tech Acquisitions, Competition

Antitrust Law

The Senate Judiciary Committee antitrust panel is going to meet this month to look into issues surrounding Big Tech companies like Facebook and Google, and investigate antitrust concerns surrounding their acquisitions of smaller firms, according to a report by Reuters

Panel Chairman Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the panel (and a presidential candidate), said the meeting is set to take place on Sept. 24 but didn’t say who the witnesses were going to be, the report noted. 

“The Subcommittee also is interested in soliciting input from policy analysts, market participants, and other stakeholders on whether legislative action relating to such mergers is needed to ensure digital markets remain competitive,” Lee said.

Klobuchar said the acquisitions done by the companies “raised serious competition issues.”

“Big technology companies have become some of the most powerful organizations in the world. They face little competition and there are numerous examples of the companies purchasing startup competitors in various lines of business,” she said.

Regulatory scrutiny of large technology companies has been increasing in recent months. In July, both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission announced probes into the four Big Tech companies regarding their size and power, and if they squashed competition by acquiring smaller companies. 

The companies are also facing heat from overseas. Facebook has been under European Union investigation, and it was reported last month that one probe might wrap up by the end of the year. 

The social media giant could be faced with billions of euros in fines as well as forced to alter some of its business operations.

The EU’s privacy enforcement for Facebook is led by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission since the social platform’s regional headquarters are in Dublin. It has 11 active cases regarding the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, the report said.

Facebook “is in close contact with the Irish Data Protection Commission to ensure we are answering their questions,” a Facebook spokeswoman told the news outlet. She added that Facebook “spent over 18 months working to ensure we comply with the GDPR.”

The Irish Data Protection Commission has already given Facebook final report copies for some cases, and will have the rest by year-end, said Graham Doyle, a spokesman for the regulator. He also said Ireland will pass along some of the draft decisions to the EU’s 27 other national privacy regulators.