Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon among tech firms being probed by the DOJ

Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon among tech firms being probed by the DOJ
According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Justice Department, under the control of Attorney General William Barr, will investigate some of the biggest U.S. tech companies. Many of these firms play a role in the world of mobile technology. Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook have committed the "crime" of getting too big and dominating platforms such as search, social media, and retail. This could be construed as "anticompetitive actions" by the DOJ. The Journal says that the investigation will be even more stringent than what the DOJ and FTC were originally planning to subject the industry to.

As a result of the new investigation, these four tech firms and others could find themselves the focus of two separate inquiries, one from the Justice Department and the other from the FTC. Both agencies are charged with investigating antitrust issues and a task force opened by the FTC in February continues to look at the competitive landscape in the industry. It seems that there is a fear that these four companies and others have grown too large and wield too much power. In fact, members of both political parties seem to have complaints. Several Democrats have been calling for Google and Facebook to break up into smaller companies while Republicans say that conservative voices are purposely silenced on some of these tech firm's social media platforms. And President Donald Trump has suggested that the DOJ sue Facebook and Google. With the connection between Attorney General Barr and Trump, executives at these two firms should be concerned.

The DOJ investigation could find other violations committed by tech firms beside those related to antitrust regulations


You might recall that last August, Trump complained that Google Search results were purposely rigged against him. He claimed that when "Trump news" was entered into Google Search, 96% of the stories that were listed came from the "National Left-Wing Media." Almost immediately, White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow said that the administration would look into ways that it could regulate Google Search. This past week, executives from Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook testified in front of a House antitrust subcommittee. Separate from the DOJ and FTC probes, the subcommittee is looking at anticompetitive behavior in the tech sector.


The DOJ will reportedly examine how big tech companies have grown, and look at other industries that they might have entered. The regulatory agency also wants to see how giant tech firms brandish the power they now have. Eventually, the investigation could narrow its focus to specific instances of alleged misconduct by Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others. And while the Justice Department will most likely start by looking for antitrust violations, the investigations won't stop there. The agency says that it will also look at company activities that violate other laws.


Last year, Google was fined $5 billion in Europe for anti-competitive behavior; the company was accused of forcing phone manufacturers seeking to license its version of Android to install Google Search and the Chrome browser on their phones. The EU Competition Commission is looking at complaints from music streamer Spotify about the 30% cut of in-app revenue that Apple collects. Because iOS users can't sideload apps, this could be considered monopolistic behavior on the part of Apple. In fact, a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. claims that because of this monopoly and Apple's 30% cut, consumers are paying inflated prices for apps from the App Store. All of these issues could be fodder for the DOJ investigation.

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8 Comments

1. MsPooks

Posts: 207; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

It's about time. Only the EU, for a change, has had the balls to see the threats posed by these giants and do something about them.

3. TBomb

Posts: 1632; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

The EU is far from perfect regarding what it acts for and against. The US is far form perfect too, but don't throw stones if you live in a glass house.

2. Habib111

Posts: 45; Member since: Feb 12, 2019

I think this means that trump was used by apple against Huawei or something like that so he thought that it would be dangerous for any company to have such influence or power other than the government

4. TBomb

Posts: 1632; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I don't think Apple is super concerned about Huawei... especially not to the point where they wold use the Gov to ban them for a month. No one in the US even knows how to pronounce Huawei, let alone be interested in their products when they have household brands with the same products.

5. superguy

Posts: 469; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

I can think of several areas where antitrust examinations need to be made. There's been a lot of consolidation in several industries and it's greatly limited competition. 1. Telecoms. While there's a lot of option for TV right now, in most areas, there really have a choice between 2 ISPs: the phone company and the cable company. Sometimes there may be a smaller company trying to compete too. In many cases, the phone company may only offer slow 90s era DSL, leaving really only 1 choice. Satellite's still slow and expensive. The whole "franchise" area concept for cable companies needs to go to allow competition. Same with monopoly areas for phone service. Some cities have exclusivity contracts with one provider. Baltimore's only high speed option is Comcast due to such a contract. Bottom line is we've had duopolies for years and they really need to be broken up or have barriers for entry for new providers eliminated. 2. Cell carriers. All 4 have gobbled up another at some point over the last 15 years. While there is more competition here, it keeps disappearing with mergers. Spectrum is a big issue, as the FCC controls the frequencies and charges a lot of them at auction - sometimes into the billions. Coverage still sucks in rural areas. Like their landline counterparts, there's little incentive outside of government mandates to expand in rural areas. And even then, they'll try to weasel around it. 3. Air travel. There have been a lot of mergers over the years that we have 4 large carriers, and a few other smaller niche carriers. The big 3 legacies (American, United and Delta) all more or less do the same things. They charge the same fees, have gutted their frequent flyer programs in the same ways, and cram more seats onto planes, to name a few. Southwest does things a bit differently, but they're an isolated system. They won't play with the others. Then you have the niche low cost carriers like Allegiant and Spirit. Gone are the days when airlines tried to differentiate themselves and compete. It's a race to the bottom. Pick any of the big 3 and your experience will be more or less the same. Air travel has gone downhill over the last 20 or 30 years. But if you gotta get somewhere, what other choices do you have? 4. Banking. We ran into "too big to fail" in the late 2000s. Never should have been allowed to get so big than one failure could threaten an economy. I think the government's been asleep at the wheel. We're less than 40 years from when they broke up Ma Bell, and it has mostly reassembled itself.

6. TBomb

Posts: 1632; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I'm in agreement with this ^^. There is a lot of intervening that needs to happen with companies. While the companies in the article tare getting too big and spreading too far, there are other companies that, like you said, have become too big in their industry and stopped moving forward. Banking has been doomed since the Alexander Hamilton days in my opinion.

8. superguy

Posts: 469; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

Intel's a good one to take a look at on stagnation. Whenever there's been a healthy AMD, we get good competition on prices and they're constantly wanting to one up each other. Tech moves fast and we get some really good advances. Unfortunately, AMD was stagnant for quite awhile after the original Hammer series processors came out. Intel slowed down as AMD was relegated mostly to budget sectors. But now with Ryzen and Threadripper, AMD's really turned up the heat and got Intel moving again. A healthy AMD is good for both CPU and GPU innovation and pricing. I hope they can keep it up. I'd hate to have another 10+ year lull with them not doing a whole lot.

7. thmtrxhsu

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 24, 2019

The biggest offender is Google. Google is wayyyyyy, wayyyyyy too powerful; in fact in combine Apple, Amazon and Facebook, Google is still 3X more powerful. Not only that, but Google itself is aware that criminals are making a killing off their platform and knowingly has made no substantial efforts to remedy this. In a way that which controls Google, controls the world. So ya, Google is more powerful than you can imagine. Don't forget with Google comes Youtube (basically the largest data centres in the world). This makes no mention of AI which Google is at the forefront. Also Google is the greatest offender of the freedoms promised by any charter of any country; you have no idea the volume that they censor and the extent that they unfairly promote the sites on the first page. Out of everyone, I tell you Google should be slapped hardest, Apple least (they actually got to the top as close to fair and square as a corporation in competition and business can achieve). Next is facebook, and to facebook's credit they have made a lot of efforts to keep their platform legit; the danger is relatively speaking they own social networking and so have too much power and too much responsibility that these are not sustainable by any one company. Next in line is the greatest cheater in the industry; Amazon. The should be slapped by both parties; they bend or break as many rules as possible and set the worst example for a corporation. As stated, no company is perfect, but Apple comes pretty close in terms of making to the top fairly. You can't make a fair argument that they are anti-competitive because all Apple devices are very expensive; so there is plenty of room to compete; what Apple has is legitimate brand power. For the most part, Apple sets a good example for how a corporation should be.

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