Australia and US antitrust committee are out for Apple: the antitrust saga continues

Australia and US antitrust committee are out for Apple: the antitrust saga continues
The war continues on Apple's alleged antitrust-violating monopolistic practices, and the most recent shots have been fired from the US Federal Antitrust Committee as well as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, is debuting a series of hearings today in a bid to revamp antitrust laws and their enforcement in the United States, with a special focus on Apple and Google's case. Klobuchar's antitrust panel will discuss "how monopolies and a lack of competition are impacting specific industries," proposing in its reform bill that "any company with more than $100 billion in annual revenue would have a far higher bar for acquisitions: they’d need to show that the merger would not hamper competition."



Klobuchar is including the COVID crisis recovery effort in her argument for the Senate to consider the bill, claiming it will help businesses recover economically following the pandemic. Besides tech, telecom, and communications, Klobuchar's hearings will discuss pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and other areas as well.

This comes after North Dakota and Arizona both submitted state-level antitrust bills against Apple's ban on third-party payment systems on its App Store, with the latter passing in a slim 31-29 vote. Moreover, just last week, the European Commission announced its preparation of a list of charges against Apple, again for monopolistic practices in trying to preserve its own mobile ecosystem on top of the hill. 
At the same time, across the pond, Australia is launching an investigation against both Apple and Google for anti-competitive practices around their web browsers and default search engines. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is pointing the limelight at Safari (Apple's own web browser) for accepting big money—around 12 billion dollars—from Google in an agreement to push Google Search as the default search engine on all Apple devices. In the document they published, the ACCC notes that in Europe, Android devices offer new users the option to choose a search engine from four displayed options on an initial choice screen. The ACCC is researching how such a "choice screen" strategy can be improved, as well as its effectiveness in facilitating competition and improving consumer choice.

Like Apple, Google is already dealing with an antitrust lawsuit at home in the States for "unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets." Apple will no doubt have to respond to these allegations, having got quite a few fingers in the pie for entering into what is essentially an exclusivity agreement with Google, forbidding the pre-installation of competing search engines—and Apple's already got plenty of pie on its plate, what with anti-App Store bills cropping up all over the States and an upcoming trial with Epic Games in May. 



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