Regulation

DOJ/State AGs Meet To Review Big Tech-Antitrust Connection

antitrust-meeting

U.S. Attorney General William Barr met with a bipartisan group of state attorneys general on Thursday (July 25) to discuss competition and antitrust issues related to big tech companies.

Eight state attorneys general held discussions on “big tech companies stifling competition on the internet,” according to Reuters.

“It was a productive meeting and we’re considering a range of possible antitrust actions against such companies,” the Texas attorney general’s office said in a statement. While not all of the other participants were named, it has been reported by different outlets that attorneys general from New York, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana were in attendance.

The meeting comes as the U.S. Justice Department announced earlier this week that it was launching an investigation of major digital technology firms, including Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook and potentially Apple.

The probe will look into whether these big name companies are using their power and influence to stifle competition, which would be illegal. The main avenues to be examined are internet search, social media practices and shopping services. In addition, the DOJ said it’s going to look into how tech companies have grown to prominence so quickly, and also how they’ve acquired smaller businesses and grown in size. It also wants to look into how having such a huge user base gives the company power.

Tech companies have been under intense scrutiny in Washington. Last week there was a series of Capitol Hill hearings that brought Amazon, Facebook and Google to Washington D.C. to defend the way they do business.

In commentary, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, stated that the desire to boost the new economy had in effect fostered a mindset that let big tech self-regulate with “little oversight,” and that concentration has resulted. He said there has been a “less open” environment that has become “hostile to innovation and entrepreneurship.” Cicilline noted there have not been challenges from antitrust regulators.

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