Sobering news for tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, after a senior US official confirmed there is an active antitrust investigation of them.
It back back in June 2019 when the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FTC were first reported as preparing their own investigations into Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google over antitrust issues.
It comes after 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.
In February this year it was revealed that app developers were being questioned by the DoJ as part of its antitrust investigation of Apple and other big name technology giants.
And now a very senior DoJ official has confirmed this week to Reuters that his department is moving “full-tilt” on its antitrust investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen is the DoJ’s second-highest ranking official, and he told Reuters in an interview this week at the department’s headquarters that he could not commit to a specific date by which the department would decide whether to bring an antitrust suit against tech firms including Google.
“We are going full-tilt. It’s a major priority,” Rosen reportedly said. “We have a great team working really hard to get on top of the documents, hearing from people in the industry and the like.”
Rosen said the probe is not being driven by political factors. He said the goal is to act “as soon as possible” based on a review of the merits.
“This is one of those issues that people from lots of different points of view are very concerned about,” he added. “I can’t tell you today what the date will be.”
Other media outlets have reported the DoJ is likely to file an antitrust complaint against Google.
Google spokeswoman Julie Tarallo McAlister told Reuters “while we continue to engage with ongoing investigations, our focus is firmly on providing free services that help people every day, lower costs for small businesses, and enable increased choice and competition.”
The DoJ probe is not the only ongoing antitrust investigation of tech giants in the United States at the moment.
Google is also being investigated by dozens of US states for allegedly using its dominance to harm smaller competitors.
And Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook are being investigated by the US House Judiciary Committee, as part of its probe into digital markets and “anti-competitive conduct” in the tech industry.
An antitrust hearing was held by the US Congress in late July, with four CEOs of the biggest technology firms appearing virtually before the committee.
The video conference hearing was the first time the four CEOs, including Tim Cook (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), and Sundar Pichai, CEO of both Alphabet and Google, have appeared together before US lawmakers.
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