Big Tech has a monopoly on power, says US House report

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The US House Judiciary Committee this week released a landmark report on competition in digital markets following a 16 month investigation.

"The fact that many people choose to employ the services of Big Tech firms in the context of highly competitive environments means that those firms are providing consumers a good or service that they value - and that is something to praise, not lament", he said. They are using "killer acquisitions" to destroy rivals, all in the name of profit, reports Reuters.

"Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation and safeguards our democracy", Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of NY and chairman of the judiciary committee, and David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, said in a joint statement.

If current trends continue, no company is likely to pose a threat to Amazon's dominance in the near or distant future. One of those concerns Google's ad business.

Of Facebook's almost 100 acquisitions, it noted, the Federal Trade Commission engaged in an extensive investigation of just one - the purchase of Instagram in 2012.

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It calls for "structural separations" to prohibit companies from competing on platforms they operate. Part of the recommendation is that these companies should be restructured but there was no revelation whether a specific company should be broken up.

The full report can be downloaded here.

"Although these firms have delivered clear benefits to society, the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google has come at a price", it added.

While Democrats have criticized the growing power of tech companies, Republicans have decried what they consider to be a bias against conservatives in Silicon Valley. "If the firms engage in practices that prevent consumers from choosing other providers, however, or impose costs on them for doing so, then that crosses an important line and would justify consideration of congressional or regulatory attention". "This Report outlines a roadmap for achieving that goal". But Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican, said that while he disapproves of sweeping changes to the antitrust laws, "There actually is a lot that we agree on, including the lack of sufficient scrutiny on past activity by these companies". In other words, this could force Apple to separate its App Store operations into another company or Google to separate its YouTube operations. It finds that the market power of the four tech giants "has diminished consumer choice, eroded innovation and entrepreneurship in the USA economy, weakened the vibrancy of the free and diverse press, and undermined Americans' privacy". Competition drives innovation, and innovation has always defined us at Apple.

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