Justice Department Launches Antitrust Review of Tech Giants

DoJ’s look into unlawful competitive practices could put Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies in regulatory danger

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The U.S. Department of Justice is opening an antitrust review into whether major tech companies have unlawfully “reduced competition” and “stifled innovation,” putting Silicon Valley stalwarts like Facebook, Google, and Amazon under increased regulatory pressure.

The investigation, announced on Tuesday, will take an overarching look at whether firms have not only blocked competition but also harmed customers. According to the Justice Department’s press release, its review will “consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.”

No companies were specifically mentioned in the DoJ’s announcement. However, it does come as Washington has ramped up its scrutiny of Silicon Valley in the last year. Facebook is facing a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its data privacy practices, and the DoJ is already considering individual anti-competition probes into Apple and Google. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren  also  proposed legislation earlier this year that would downsize major tech firms like Facebook and Amazon.

“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division said in a statement. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”

The DoJ’s new review, according to The Wall Street Journal, is expected to go “above and beyond” the regulatory scrutiny these companies already face from the FTC and Justice Department.

Shares of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, all dropped slightly in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

More to come…

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