The House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law of the Committee on The Judiciary just published Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets. It’s not a page-turner, but you should read it today.
After a 16-month investigation into competitive practices at Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, the report concludes that the four Big Tech companies enjoy monopoly power and suggests Congress take up changes to antitrust laws that could result in parts of their businesses being separated. As you might imagine, Republicans and Democrats do not agree on all of the ideas in this report.
The report raises the question: Is this really an antitrust issue? Sure, the big four are fiscal monopolies. That’s obvious. All four companies are brutally anticompetitive. Ask any Amazon seller, Google or Facebook ad buyer, or Apple app maker: they will all complain bitterly about how they are tortured and abused by these organizations, however… they will then wink at you and tell you how much money they make leveraging the platforms. “The big four always make money for their friends.”
I can also argue that none of these businesses are “essential.” You can purchase other phones and computers, you can shop elsewhere, there are other search platforms and social networks. While they may be monopolies in their respective worlds, they are not the only games in town.
The Big Four have a 100 percent monopoly on data. If there is a war to be fought, it’s about the way the Big Four collect and use data. Breaking up these four companies will do nothing to help rein this in. It may actually exacerbate the problem, as having more gigantic data collectors will make data regulation much harder to control.
I am always shocked (but not surprised) by the lack of technological understanding our elected officials demonstrate. This report is no exception.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.