A team in the US House of Representatives investigated the abuse of market power by four large technology companies and found that they used “killer acquisitions” to combat competitors, charge high fees, and force small companies to enter into “repressive” contracts in the name of profit. .

The Antitrust Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee recommended that Alphabet’s Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have a total market value of more than US$5 trillion (approximately Rs 3,66,97,249 crore) and should not simultaneously control and compete for related businesses.

The expert group’s report also extensively recommends a structural separation, but it does not say that a particular company should be broken up.

This harsh 449-page report is the result of Congress’s first review of the technology industry. It proposes extensive changes to the antitrust law, describes the abuse of power by dozens of companies, and reveals that corporate culture is clearly inclined Do your best to maintain a dominant position on most of the Internet.

The report said: “Simply put, those startups that were once all the rage and failed to challenge the status quo have become the last monopoly we saw in the era of oil tycoons and railroad tycoons.”

In anticipation of the report, Amazon warned in a blog post on Tuesday that “the concept of antitrust” and market intervention, “will force small businesses to exit popular online stores, raise prices and reduce consumer choice, thereby killing independent retailers and penalizing them. Consumers.” “

Google said in a statement that it “has fair competition in a fast-developing, highly competitive industry. We disagree with today’s reports, which are characterized by outdated and inaccurate search and other services by commercial competitors.” Allegations.”

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Facebook calls itself the “American Success Story.” The social network said: “We compete with millions or even billions of people using their various services. Acquisitions are part of every industry. This is a way for us to innovate new technologies to provide more value to people. .”

Apple said: “The review is reasonable and appropriate, but we strongly disagree with these conclusions.” The company also defended the commission rate and said it will make a broader response in the coming days.

After more than a year of investigation, involving 1.3 million documents and more than 300 interviews, a committee led by Democratic Congressman David Cicilline found that the company operates in a competitive market, thereby creating “a position” , Enabling them to write a set of rules for other rules while they are playing.”

In the weeks leading up to the November 3 presidential election, the content of the report became increasingly political. This is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to improve their credibility in combating the dominance of large technology companies.

In other words, Congress is unlikely to take action on this year’s findings. Because the report reflects the views of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, it sends a clear signal that if Joe Biden wins the White House, pressure on the company is likely to continue.

In addition, the report may provide a basis for existing antitrust investigations against the company. The committee advisers, who asked not to be named, said they were already talking to the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating Facebook and Amazon. They said Chairman Sicilion also kept in touch with the state attorney general who is investigating Facebook and Google.

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In addition, the US Department of Justice is investigating large technology companies and is expected to file a lawsuit against Google soon.

But the report is divided by party. The Republicans on the committee issued two short reports, one written by representative Ken Barker and supported by three fellow Republicans. The report severely criticized the two companies, but said he did not support any calls to split them.

The other letter was written on behalf of Jim Jordan. The letter criticized the Democrats for not suing big technology companies for alleged conservatism, and it did not show that the existing antitrust laws were inadequate. .

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The group recommends prohibiting companies from engaging in close cooperation. Although they did not specify a single company, the proposal would suggest that Google, which operates online advertising space and participates in auctions, clearly distinguishes or does not operate the two companies.

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 is another example. The report stated that Instagram was small and insignificant at the time, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw its potential and pointed out that it was “building a network to compete with ourselves” and “May cause great damage to us.”

As part of the report, committee staff drafted a menu of potential changes in antitrust laws. The recommendations range from radical ones, such as potentially prohibiting companies like Amazon from operating markets where they also compete, to less controversial ones, such as increasing the budget of agencies that enforce antitrust laws: the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and Federal Trade unit. commission.

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The report also urged Congress to allow antitrust enforcers more leeway in preventing companies from buying potential competitors, which is now difficult.

Advisers to the committee said that the antitrust group will accept a majority report after the October recess for formal adoption and will vote on the table.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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