WASHINGTON – Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google engaged in anticompetitive, monopoly-style tactics to evolve into four of the world’s most powerful corporate behemoths, according to congressional investigators who called in a wide-ranging report released Tuesday for sweeping changes to federal laws so that government regulators can bring Silicon Valley back in check.
The roughly 450-page document, capping a roughly 16-month investigation by the House’s top antitrust committee, found that the four tech giants relied on dubious, harmful means to solidify their dominance in Web search, smartphones, social networking and shopping – and in the process evaded the very federal regulators whose primary task is to ensure that companies do not grow into such unmatched corporate titans.
Congressional investigators faulted Facebook for gobbling up potential competitors with impunity, and they concluded Google improperly scraped rivals’ websites and forced its technology on others to reach its pole position in search and advertising. The lawmakers’ report labeled both of those firms as monopolies while faulting the federal government for failing to crack down on them sooner.
Amazon and Apple, meanwhile, exerted their own form of “monopoly power” to protect and grow their corporate footprints. As operators of two major online marketplaces – a world-leading shopping site for Amazon, and a powerful App Store for Apple – the two tech giants for years set rules that essentially put smaller, competing sellers and software developers at a disadvantage, the report found.
The House investigation stopped short of calling on the Trump administration to break up any of the companies. Instead, it proposed the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. antitrust law in decades, a series of legislative proposals that could empower the government to battle bigness in the tech industry and prevent future problematic mergers. Any such retooling would require approval from Congress, and they would