House Antitrust Report Targets Big Tech Monopoly Power And Urges Breakup

The House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee this week released the 400-page findings of its 16-month investigation into the “state of competition in the digital economy.”

The predetermined results cited a “clear and compelling need” to “strengthen antitrust enforcement and consider a range of forceful options, including structural separations and prohibitions on anticompetitive conduct” against the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google.

The use of the word “force” is telling, given the voluntary nature of markets and consumer choice.

Antitrust regulation is a prominent illustration of how unhinged and concentrated hyper-regulatory power, not just spending authority, enables and encourages massive compulsory transfers of wealth by government. Every generation or so we go through the motions of “modernizing” antitrust only to invent complex new rationales reviving it for every major new frontier sector because, this time, we really mean it, it’s really different and government needs to step in.

Market actors today find themselves accused by so-called trustbusters of being too big, reducing consumer welfare, raising rivals’ costs, and—in the latest iteration—of doing other bad things like interfering with free speech.

In a release accompanying the new report, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nader (D-New York) proclaimed, “As they exist today, Apple
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, Amazon
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, Google
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, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy. In recent years, each company has expanded

House Panel Urges Tech Giant Breakup in Plan Republicans Shunned

(Bloomberg) — A House panel proposed far-reaching antitrust reforms to curb the power of U.S. technology giants including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, culminating a 16-month investigation with a damning 449-page report that Republicans largely shunned.



David Cicilline looking at the camera: Representative David Cicilline a Democrat from Rhode Island and chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.


© Bloomberg
Representative David Cicilline a Democrat from Rhode Island and chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

The recommendations from the House antitrust subcommittee represent the most dramatic proposal to overhaul competition law in decades, and could lead to the breakup of tech companies if approved by Congress.

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The findings target four of the biggest U.S. tech companies — Amazon, Google, Facebook Inc., and Apple Inc. — describing them as gatekeepers of the digital economy that can use their control over markets to pick winners and losers. The companies have abused their power to snuff out competitive threats, leading to less innovation, fewer choices for consumers and a hobbled democracy, the report said.

“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 panel’s Democratic leaders said. “These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake.”

Facebook fell more than 1% in late trading after the report’s release. Amazon and Apple slipped less than 1% and Google was unchanged.

The staff report’s most consequential recommendation is for Congress to consider legislation that would prevent tech companies from owning different lines of businesses, which could lead to a mandate to break them up.

“Their ability both to use their dominance in one market as