The House Report suggests that mergers between dominant tech firms automatically be considered anti-competitive
The report also recommended that instead of allowing dominant platforms to choose their own services, they be forced to offer other companies “equal terms for equal products and services.” The staff members also would like to see these “dominant platforms” make their services compatible with competitors, and hike the budgets for agencies concerned with anti-competitive behavior such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
The Republicans objected to the issues and suggestions laid out in the report with one, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, completely missing the point of the hearing. Instead of focusing on possible anti-competitive behavior on the part of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, Jordan used it to complain about how the four aforementioned tech firms cited tend to have a bias against conservatives.
The App Store is where staff members found the company to be anti-competitive
With 40%-50% of online sales in the U.S., Amazon’s power over its third-party sellers does not produce a free market. As the report notes, “Amazon has engaged in extensive anti-competitive conduct in its treatment of third-party sellers. Publicly, Amazon describes third-party sellers as ‘partners.’ But internal documents show that, behind closed doors, the company refers to them as ‘internal competitors.” Yet, Amazon says that it is not in its best interests to work against third-party sellers on its platform.
And the staff came to the conclusion that Google has monopolies in Search and in Search-advertising. The report says that “Numerous market participants analogized Google to a gatekeeper that is extorting users for access to its critical distribution channel, even as its search page shows users less relevant results.” Google responded by stating, “Google’s free products like Search, Maps and Gmail help millions of Americans and we’ve invested billions of dollars in research and development to build and improve them. We compete fairly in a fast-moving and highly competitive industry. We disagree with today’s reports, which feature outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial rivals about Search and other services.”
These investigations do have support among the U.S. population. After all, 85% are concerned about the amount of data these online platforms have about them with 81% concerned that collecting this data is just a prelude to these firms collecting more information on them. 58% are not confident that the search results they are receiving are unbiased. 79% say that big tech mergers are bad for competition and consumer choice. And 60% would like to see more regulation of online platforms and the ability to switch from one platform to another without losing data or connections.
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