The U.S. House of Representatives antitrust report on Big Tech reportedly includes a “thinly veiled call to break up” the tech giants, according to a report by Reuters.
The House antitrust subcommittee could publish its report on Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet this week. However, while it’s not been published yet, it’s already causing controversy.
The suggestion that it asks for a breakup of tech giants is based on a comment from a Republican politician who saw a draft of the report. “We do not agree with the majority’s approach,” Rep. Ken Buck said. However, he noted that:
“The report offers a chilling look into how Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook have used their power to control how we see and understand the world.”
Buck said he agreed with concerns about tech giants carrying out “killer acquisitions” to nullify rivals. But he didn’t agree with a plan that would require them to function in a “single line of business.” This could hurt all the big tech companies to various degrees, since they all operate in multiple arenas.
Investigations into the tech giants
Tech CEOs including Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai participated in a congressional hearing in late July. This followed a year-long investigation into the companies. As Cult of Mac noted at the time, Cook largely avoided grilling during the hearing. Apple faced roughly half as many questions as his fellow CEOs.
Apple finds itself in a somewhat strange position when it comes to antitrust. It’s the most valuable of the companies being scrutinized. However, it is not the leader in any one area. On the mobile front, for instance, Android is a strong competitor to iOS. Google Play is also more widely used (but less profitable) than the iOS App Store. Spotify, meanwhile, boasts more subscribers than Apple Music. Windows remains more widely used than macOS, and so on.
The fact that the antitrust investigation into tech giants is fairly damning is no great surprise. A previous report, quoting lawmakers, suggested that tech giants are “abusing their market power to crush competitors.”
It remains to be seen what suggestions lawmakers put forward to address the situation. Or, indeed, how effectively any legislation will reduce the tech giants’ spheres of influence.