Adi Robertson and Russell Brandom for The Verge:
The House Judiciary Committee has released its conclusions on whether Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google are violating antitrust law. Its 449-page report criticizes these companies for buying competitors, preferencing their own services, and holding outsized power over smaller businesses that use their platforms. “Our investigation revealed an alarming pattern of business practices that degrade competition and stifle innovation,” said committee member Val Demings (D-FL). “Competition must reward the best idea, not the biggest corporate account. We will take steps necessary to hold rulebreakers accountable.”
The majority’s report lays out a number of concrete policy recommendations, which, taken together, would drastically change how the tech industry operates. It urges Congress to consider passing commercial nondiscrimination rules that would make large companies offer equal terms to companies selling products and services on their platforms. It recommends barring certain dominant platforms from competing in “adjacent lines of business” where they’d have a huge advantage.
That is a big report. I have not had time to read it; I doubt many people have fully read the entire report, although people are skimming and searching the well-made PDF (“sherlocking” is name dropped on pages 361-363).
Of course, the four big tech companies aren’t happy with the results:
We have always said that scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate but we vehemently disagree with the conclusions reached in this staff report with respect to Apple.
All large organizations attract the attention of regulators, and we welcome that scrutiny. But large companies are not dominant by definition, and the presumption that success can only be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong. And yet, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, those fallacies are at the core of regulatory spit-balling on antitrust.
We disagree with today’s reports, which feature outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial rivals about Search and other services.
I haven’t seen a statement from Facebook, but I’ll update the post if I find one. But I want to give Facebook their fair time in the spotlight, so I’ll leave you with this gem from page 136 of the report:
Facebook describes a diverse list of other firms as competitive substitutes for Facebook, including Microsoft’s Bing, a search engine; Yelp, a publisher of crowd-sourced business reviews; and BuzzFeed, a digital news publisher. According to Facebook, these firms exert competitive pressure on Facebook in the market for users’ attention. Most recently, in response to an inquiry by the United Kingdom’s Competition Market Authority, Facebook calculated its market share as “time captured by Facebook as a percentage of total user time spent on the internet, including social media, dating, news and search platforms.” Based on these measures, Facebook concluded that it lacks monopoly power.