Congressional Panel Details Big Tech’s Abuses, Urges Tougher Laws

(Reuters) A U.S. House of Representatives panel looking into abuses of market power by four of the biggest technology companies found they used “killer acquisitions” to smite rivals, charged exorbitant fees, and forced small businesses into “oppressive” contracts in the name of profit.

The scathing 449-page report describes dozens of instances where Alphabet Inc’s GOOGL.O Google, Apple Inc AAPL.O, Amazon.com AMZN.O, and Facebook FB.O misused their power, revealing corporate cultures apparently bent on doing what they could to hold on to their dominance over large portions of the internet.

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.

After more than a year of an investigation involving 1.3 million documents and more than 300 interviews, the committee led by Democratic Congressman David Cicilline found companies running marketplaces where they also competed, creating “a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another.”

Coming so close to the presidential election on Nov. 3, the content of the report became increasingly political with Republicans and Democrats seeking to use it to build up their credibility in the fight against the market domination of the biggest tech companies.

That said, Congress is unlikely to act on the findings this year.

Ultimately, the report reflects the views of the Democratic majority in the House, and two other reports were expected to be authored by Republican members on the panel, two sources told Reuters earlier in the day.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The report urged Congress to allow antitrust enforcers more leeway in stopping companies from purchasing potential rivals, something that is now difficult.

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 is an example of this. Instagram at the time was small and insignificant, but Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg saw its potential and noted that it was “building networks that are competitive with our own” and “could be very disruptive to us,” the report said.

As part of the report, the committee staff drew up a menu of potential changes in antitrust law. The suggestions ranged from the aggressive, such as potentially barring companies like Amazon.com from operating the markets in which it also competes, to the less controversial, like increasing the budgets of the agencies that enforce antitrust law: the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission.

Reporting by Nandita Bose and Diane Bartz; Editing by Edward Tobin and Leslie Adler



Source by [author_name]

Latest

Trump ‘Respectfully’ Requests FBI Returns Seized Documents To Mar-A-Lago

Former President Donald Trump on Sunday publicly requested that...

U.K. Police Investigate Online Threat to J.K. Rowling

The authorities in the United Kingdom said on Sunday...

Dozens killed in Egypt church fire: police

Cairo: A fire ripped through a packed Coptic Orthodox...

Anne Heche to be taken off life support

Anne Heche will be taken off of life support...

Trump ‘Respectfully’ Requests FBI Returns Seized Documents To Mar-A-Lago

Former President Donald Trump on Sunday publicly requested that documents seized from his Florida resort and home during a federal search this past week...

‘Spider-Man’ Star Tom Holland Says He’s Taking Time Away From Social Media

Holland, who has deleted Instagram in prior years, said Instagram and Twitter are both overstimulating and overwhelming while explaining how he’s on a social...

Black Firefighter Says His Captain Took Him To Racist Party While On The Job

A Black firefighter in upstate New York says a fire captain brought him and other firefighters to a racist party that included fried chicken...