The antitrust scandal of internet behemoths starting under Trump will increase this autumn, when Big Tech skeptics Lina Khan, Tim Wu, and Jonathan Kanter take control over competitive policy and implementation in Biden’s administration. Why it matters: Federal regulators, Congress, state attorneys general, and European Union officials have threatened Facebook, Google, and Apple. General picture: Four companies are attacked from four different ways: It is not surprising that the antitrust arena sometimes feels like a three dimensional chess. As fall season approaches, here’s how the game plan looks:
The Federal Trade Commission, now headed by Khan, renewed its legal effort challenging Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp assets in August. The FTC accused a Facebook of buying rivals or using unfair tactics to stop them in order to cause squelch competition. What to look for: Facebook has until October 4 to respond. The European Commission launched an antitrust survey of the Facebook Market in May on concerns that receiving Facebook data from advertisers was misleading.
What to look for: The British government announced a similar investigation in May that also targeted Facebook’s online dating service. In Congress, the House Judiciary Committee approved the restriction of technological antitrust licenses, with one that would force more interaction and another that would prevent large corporations from robbing competitors by property. What to look for: Bipartisan fellow legislation in the Senate will give these bills some effect. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) In July he decided to introduce a bill that would prevent mergers between large technology companies.
The FTC has been investigating Amazon’s business practices since the Trump administration and is also digging into giant e-commerce machines to buy the Hollywood MGM company. What to look for: Amazon wants Khan to withdraw from the Amazon case of the FTC, which has given prior advocacy action against the company. The European Commission sued Amazon last November for violating antitrust laws by using data collected from third-party sellers to design offer products that compete with those merchants.
What to look for: The commission also opened a separate investigation into how Amazon chose what products received the coveted “Buy Box” label. But a Times Times report in March suggested that the case was top notch. In Congress, Amazon faces the potential for drastic changes to its business model through House antitrust bills that would prevent it from operating both online marketplaces and selling products on them. What to look for: Amazon warns sellers that they could be held liable if such a law is enacted – and hopefully those sellers will call their representatives. The Justice Department and several state attorneys general filed several antitrust lawsuits against Google over the past year, with the DOJ accusing Google of illegal monopoly on Internet search and advertising.
What to look for: A judge in the DOJ case shows that he will probably not go to trial until 2023. President Joe Biden has appointed Jonathan Kanter, an antitrust lawyer who has fought Google in the face of his technological enemies, to lead. the antitrust division of the DOJ, although it has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. In Congress, Google faces numerous legislative threats, from house opposition documents as well as legislation in both the House and Senate that will limit its power on the Google Play Store. What to look for: All state attorneys also sue Google over how your app store operates. The European Commission opened its own study in May to Google’s potential in the online advertising ecosystem.