Congressional hearings signal growing antitrust problems for big tech

Enlarge / The European Commission is investigating potentially false claims that Facebook cannot merge user information from the messaging network WhatsApp, which it acquired in 2014. Warsaw, Poland, on December 21, 2016. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (credit: NurPhoto | Getty Images)

The House Antitrust Subcommittee will conduct a series of hearings on the growing power of big technology companies, Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) announced on Monday. It’s the latest sign of growing interest in antitrust action against the largest technology companies—especially Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

“After four decades of weak antitrust enforcement and judicial hostility to antitrust cases, it is critical that Congress step in to determine whether existing laws are adequate to tackle abusive conduct by platform gatekeepers or whether we need new legislation to respond to this challenge,” Cicilline said in a press release.

The announcement came shortly after news about a deal between the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, which share responsibility for antitrust enforcement. Under the deal, the Justice Department will focus on investigating Google and Apple, while the FTC will be responsible for Facebook and Amazon. The Justice Department has reportedly begun an investigation of Google; it’s not known if the agencies have begun investigating the other firms.

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