Regulation

Dual-Agency Big Tech Antitrust Investigations Questioned

A Republican senator isn’t happy with plans by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to divide a potential investigation into the biggest U.S. tech firms.

Earlier this month, the DOJ and the FTC came to an agreement over the jurisdiction of potential antitrust probes into Facebook and Google. 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 investigation will look into whether it has taken part in illegal monopolistic operations, while the Alphabet query will follow a similar path. The FTC also has jurisdiction over a potential probe into Amazon while the DOJ has Apple.

The agreement between the two agencies, however, 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.

But in a statement announcing a hearing on antitrust enforcement, Senator Mike Lee, chair of the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, warned that dividing the work would cause a variety of problems.

“Given the similarity in competition issues involved, divvying up these investigations is sure to waste resources, split valuable expertise across the agencies, and likely result in divergent antitrust enforcement,” he said in a statement, according to Reuters.

However, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a presidential candidate and the top Democrat on the panel, said she is supportive of the potential probes.

“It’s critical that we and the American people have a good sense of what the agencies are actually doing to protect competition in this important part of our economy,” she said.

In addition, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee launched its own investigation of competition in digital markets, with both Republicans and Democrats expressing their concerns about the power wielded by tech giants.

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