Following a 16-month cartel investigation into competition practices in Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, the US House of Representatives’ antitrust subcommittee has issued its findings and recommendations on how to reform laws to suit the digital age.
The report concludes that the four “Big Tech” companies have monopoly power and proposes that Congress introduce amendments to the antitrust laws that could result in parts of their business being separated. Republicans have objected to some of the bolder proposals in the report, such as introducing structural divides.
Lauren Feiner for CNBC:
The recommendations from democratic employees include:
• Impose structural separations and prohibit dominant platforms from entering adjacent business areas. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, DR.I. has previously referred to this method as a type of “Glass-Steagall” law for the Internet, referring to the laws of the 1930s that separated commercial from investment banking.
• To instruct antitrust agencies to assume mergers of dominant platforms in order to be competitive, and to shift the burden to the merged parties to prove that their agreement will not harm competition, rather than to enforce enforcement to prove it would.
• To prevent dominant platforms from preferring their own services, instead making them offer “equal terms for equal products and services.”
Requires dominant companies to make their services compatible with competitors and allow users to transfer their data.
• Overriding “problematic precedents” in monopoly case law.
• Requires the Federal Trade Commission to regularly collect concentration data.
• Increase budgets for the FTC and the Division of Justice Antitrust Division.
• Strengthen private enforcement by eliminating coercive arbitration clauses and restrictions on class action lawsuits.
The Democratic report found that the four technology companies enjoy a monopoly in the following areas:
• Alphabet / Google: online search.
• Amazon: most third-party sellers and many vendors.
• Apple: distribution of software apps on iOS devices.
• Facebook: online advertising and social networking.
MacDailyNews Take: So, Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft are guilty of a monopoly on the distribution of software apps on their consoles and devices as well. Ford, BMW etc. are also guilty of having a monopoly on the distribution of software apps on Ford, BMW etc. Cars respectively.
Apple should not be merged with those like Alphabet / Google who actually have a monopoly (which by the way is legal) and very likely abuse it (which is subject to antitrust).
The fact is that Apple has no monopoly on smartphones, so Apple is not capable of committing monopoly abuse.
Worldwide market share for smartphone OS, September 2020:
• Android: 74.44%
• iOS: 24.98%
I do not think anyone reasonable will conclude that Apple is a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We do not have a dominant position in any market … We are not a monopoly. – Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2019
In the case of Google, the biggest offender in “Big Tech” imposes any remedies that restore competition in online search and online advertising.