House lawmakers say Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple abused monopoly power

cnet-promo-apple-facebook-google-amazon-17

The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee released its report after investigating Big Tech.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Lawmakers from the US House of Representatives accused Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple of “abuses of monopoly power” in a 449-page report released Tuesday. The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee drew its conclusions after a 16-month investigation that culminated in an hours-long hearing with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai in July.

The report calls for restructuring and several other changes to rein in the companies. One recommendation tries to make it tougher for tech giants to buy up smaller companies that consolidates the industry. A “nondiscrimination requirements” suggestion aims to stop platforms from prioritizing their own products over those of rivals. The subcommittee also calls for the strengthening of antitrust laws and enforcement. 

The subcommittee likens the tech companies to monopolies from “the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” For the investigation, led by Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline, the subcommittee gathered more than 1.3 million documents from the tech giants, competitors and antitrust enforcement agencies.

“Although these firms have delivered clear benefits to society, the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google has come at a price,” the report says. “These firms typically run the marketplace while also competing in it — a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another.”

The amount of power these tech companies hold have resulted in “less innovation, fewer choices for consumers, and a weakened democracy,” the report says.

The four companies are some of the most powerful in the world. Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with a user base roughly equal