The lawyer who helped spearhead the successful U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft thinks today’s government is ill-prepared to take on companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.
According to Gary Reback, the U.S. government does not have enough litigators to prosecute antitrust cases against these tech giants.
Reback should know. The United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust case became one of the defining tech moments of the early 2000s.
A report from Business Insider (paywall) notes that, in the case of the Microsoft antitrust suit:
“The Justice Department tapped an outside litigator — David Bois — to lead its prosecution of the case. Meanwhile, the team of in-house layers the agency assembled to put together the case was based in San Francisco, even though the trial took place in Washington, D.C.
‘I’m telling you, even back then it was a struggle within the Antitrust Division to find … a good team to support Bois,’ Reback said.”
U.S. vs. Big Tech
He said that a similar scenario, involving an outside counsel, may be required against modern tech giants. He also said the United States will need to “figure out almost from scratch how they’re going to enforce the antitrust laws.”
The government has not yet announced how its antitrust investigation of Apple and the other tech giants will proceed. Four CEOs — Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai — participated in a July congressional hearing, which followed a year-long investigation into the companies.
Recently, David Cicilline, the chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee, said: “All of these companies engage in behavior which is deeply disturbing and requires Congress to take action.” He said the “common theme” is the abuse of power to “crush competition” and “earn monopoly rents.”
Meanwhile, Apple faces similar probes in several other countries, including Italy.
What are your predictions for the outcome of the current antitrust investigations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.