Tech companies are some of the largest and most well-known companies in the world. Everyone is familiar with names such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. These companies dominate their industries, and the Justice Department is now launching a review to see if large tech companies have violated antitrust laws.
Over the course of the last couple of years, governments in Europe, and consumer groups in the United States, have been highly critical of large tech giants and the way they operate in the consumer marketplace. It is alleged by some that large tech giants stifle any type of competition, and they have kept others from having a meaningful place in the marketplace.
Since the 1970s, companies that were viewed as promoting consumer welfare were generally considered to be exempt from antitrust rules. For instance, if a company had the goal of lowering prices to the masses, they were never investigated for antitrust concerns. Most of the companies that have come under criticism offer their services for free. For this reason, they have not come under antitrust scrutiny in the past.
Things are now changing, and the current Justice Department is taking a different approach. Members of the current administration believe that if there isn’t vigorous competition within a given marketplace, the free-market system is not working as intended.
The Justice Department did not state the exact companies that would be covered in its antitrust review. However, the Justice Department did say that companies involved in internet services, social media and certain areas of retail services would be investigated.
Earlier this month, there was a clear demonstration of the US government’s crackdown on tech giants. The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion because Facebook did not handle the personal information of its users in the appropriate manner.
In addition to the Justice Department review, large tech companies are being investigated by the US Congress. Governments in Europe are also investigating some big tech firms for possible violations of EU laws.