DoJ Antitrust Boss Urged To Recuse Himself From Tech Probe

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Antitrust chief must recuse himself from Google, Apple probe as he previously worked for them, says US senator

The head of the anitrust division within the US Department of Justice should not be involved in the competition investigation of Google and Apple.

This is according to democratic senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who has previously warned that tech companies “have too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy.”

Her comments come as the US House of Representatives earlier this month launched a probe into digital markets and “anti-competitive conduct” in the tech industry.

Tech Probes

That Senate investigation came as news broke of a possible wide-ranging investigation by US regulators.

The regulators at the Department of Justice and the FTC are said to be focusing on ‘anti-competitive conduct’ at major tech companies such Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

The US has been accused in the past of giving large tech companies a relatively free hand, even as in Europe firms such as Apple, Facebook and Google have been the target of wide-ranging probes and massive fines.

It had been reported in the US media, that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice had divided jurisdiction of the four companies between them.

The FTC is said to be overseeing Amazon and Facebook, and the Justice Department scrutinising Apple and Google.

Conflict of interest

But there is a problem with that, according to democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

She called on the DoJ’s antitrust division chief, Makan Delrahim, to recuse himself from the department’s antitrust investigations into Google and Apple.

Her reasoning is that his past lobbying for those two companies raised conflict of interest concerns.

In a letter to Delrahim and reported by Reuters, Warren said Alphabet’s Google had hired him in 2007 to lobby federal antitrust officials on behalf of the company’s proposed acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick, and he had reported an estimated $100,000 in income from Google in that year.

Furthermore, Apple had apparently hired Delrahim in 2006 and 2007 to lobby the government on its behalf on patent reform issues.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“As the head of the antitrust division at the DOJ, you should not be supervising investigations into former clients who paid you tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the federal government,” Warren was quoted by Reuters as saying.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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