After a protracted 16-month investigation that involved the tech world’s biggest names being grilled by Congress, the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust has released its report. The findings are, unsurprisingly, that Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook hold “monopoly power” in tech spaces and that action should be taken to reduce or limit it.
The report concluded that each of the four companies holds monopoly power over a different section of the industry–Apple over “software distribution on iOS devices,” Google “in the market for general online search,” Facebook “in the market for social networking,” and Amazon “over most third-party sellers and many of its suppliers.”
The recommendations are extensive, and would represent sweeping changes to existing antitrust laws. They include recommendations such as prohibiting dominant platforms from entering “adjacent lines of business,” such as Facebook acquiring Instagram, or Google acquiring YouTube. Interestingly, Google chose not to acquire Twitch back in 2014 due to antitrust concerns, already having video giant YouTube under its belt.
Another recommendation, if passed into law, would require antitrust agencies to presume huge mergers to be anticompetitive, meaning companies would have to prove a merger wouldn’t be anticompetitve, rather than enforcers having to prove it would be.
The full report is available here, providing a comprehensive breakdown of how dominant tech companies have thus far been allowed to run riot. “By controlling access to markets, these giants can pick winners and losers throughout our economy,” the Chairs’ forward reads. “They not only wield tremendous power, but they also abuse it by charging exorbitant fees, imposing oppressive contract terms, and extracting valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them.”
“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”
The report’s conclusion may be good news for Epic Games, who have been embroiled in a legal battle with Apple over the latter’s control of microtransactions in games played on iOS devices. The Committee’s recommendations aren’t guaranteed to become law, however–the report was notably Democrat-led, leading to questions over how much support the proposed changes will see from Republicans.