House Democrats push Congress to break up Big Tech monopolies

Congress should consider forcing the breakup of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google into smaller companies that can’t enter into adjacent lines of business (via NBC News). That’s the main recommendation of a 449-page Democrats on the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust published on Tuesday following the panel’s 16-month investigation into big tech that saw the CEOs from all four companies testify before Congress. They say all four companies enjoy monopolies in at least one of the verticals in which they operate.   

“During the investigation, Subcommittee staff found evidence of monopolization and monopoly power,” the report says. It goes on to argue the dominance of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google has “diminished consumer choice, eroded innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. economy, weakened the vibrancy of the free and diverse press and undermined Americans’ privacy.” 

Perhaps most notably, the report concludes Apple enjoys a monopoly in app distribution on iOS devices. “Apple leverages its control of iOS and the App Store to create and enforce barriers to competition and discriminate against and exclude rivals while preferencing its own offerings,” the report says. “Apple also uses its power to exploit app developers through misappropriation of competitively sensitive information and to charge app developers supra-competitive prices within the App Store.”

Apple’s control of the App Store is at the heart of the company’s ongoing legal feud with Fortnite developer Epic Games. In August, Epic bypassed the App Store with its Mega Drop promotion, giving mobile players the option to pay for the title’s in-game currency directly. When Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, Epic launched a lawsuit against the company.

Among other recommendations, the report also suggests strengthing antitrust laws and requiring dominant tech companies to make their platforms compatible with the services from their competitors.

“The totality of the evidence produced during this investigation demonstrates the pressing need for legislative action and reform,” the report says. “These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement.”

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