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Is 'Big Tech' too big? A look at growing antitrust scrutiny

SeattlePI.com Tuesday, 4 June 2019
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Is Big Tech headed for a big breakup?

The U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are moving to investigate Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple over their aggressive business practices, and the House Judiciary Committee has announced an unprecedented antitrust probe , promising "a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms."

In addition, at least two 2020 presidential hopefuls have expressed support for breaking up some of technology's biggest players amid concerns they have become too powerful.

Experts say breakups are unlikely in the short term, and Rep. David Cicilline, the Rhode Island Democrat who leads the subcommittee pursuing the House investigation, called such measures a "last resort." But even without that, Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple could face new restrictions on their power.

Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple declined to comment on the investigations.

Here's a look at the cases that could be brought against them and what their defenses could be.

FACEBOOK

With 2.4 billion users, $56 billion in revenue last year and a name that's synonymous with social media, Facebook is certainly big. But is it an illegal, competition-crushing monopoly?

Federal regulators are already investigating the company's privacy practices. But the antitrust question has been rumbling in the background, with critics calling for spinning off WhatsApp and Instagram. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has called for breaking up Big Tech, as has Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook. Former Vice President Joe Biden has said that he is open to the idea .

Critics believe a breakup is needed because Facebook can squash competitors either by buying them or using its enormous resources to mimic...
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News video: Big tech firms facing greater U.S. oversight -sources

Big tech firms facing greater U.S. oversight -sources 01:46

U.S. regulators are preparing to step up scrutiny of major tech companies with possible antitrust probes of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, according to Reuters sources and published reports. Conway G. Gittens reports.

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