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Technology DOJ: State AGs could make good partners in big tech antitrust probes

21:55  22 october  2019
21:55  22 october  2019 Source:   cnet.com

Congressional antitrust panel to discuss Big Tech competition

Congressional antitrust panel to discuss Big Tech competition The Senate's antitrust panel will meet later this month to discuss concerns that tech giants, such as Google or Amazon, seek to buy smaller rivals in order to head off competition. © Ng Han Guan "Big technology companies have become some of the most powerful organizations in the world," Sen. Amy Klobuchar said. Senators Mike Lee and Amy Klobuchar, the chairman and top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, said the hearing was scheduled for Sept. 24 but did not list witnesses.

Facebook and Google are facing antitrust scrutiny from all sides -- from both state officials and federal regulators. The Department of Justice is probing the companies, while state attorneys general are also looking into their potentially monopolistic practices.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust division. Getty© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust division. Getty

But while those probes may all be separate, investigators from both levels of government may make helpful allies.

"States can be important partners," Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's antitrust division, said Tuesday. He made the remarks at the Wall Street Journal's Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, California.

Google could soon face another antitrust investigation

Google could soon face another antitrust investigation Next week, more than half of the nation's attorneys general are expected to announce an antitrust investigation into Google, The Washington Post reports. Details on the investigation are limited, but it's yet another probe into fears that big tech has amassed too much power. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed concerns that just a handful of companies control the internet and technology at large. Earlier this summer, a House antitrust subcommitteegrilled executives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Neither Google nor Facebook immediately responded to requests for comment.

Silicon Valley is facing intense scrutiny when it comes to antitrust issues. Google in July acknowledged it was under investigation by the Justice Department. The DOJ is also opening a probe into Facebook, according to a report last month by Reuters.

Meanwhile, the states have also turned up the heat. Texas AG Ken Paxton is leading a coalition of 50 attorneys general over the search giant's business practices when it comes to its massive digital advertising operation. And in September, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a probe into Facebook. The investigation will focus on "Facebook's dominance in the industry and the potential anticompetitive conduct stemming from that dominance," James' office said in a statement at the time.

Google target of new U.S. antitrust probe by state attorneys general

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a man wearing a suit and tie: Google headquarters in Mountain View, California© Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

On Tuesday, James trumpeted additional support for the Facebook probe, announcing that the investigation will have participation from 47 attorneys general from around the nation.

But while Delrahim said the states and the federal government could make good partners, he said their interests could also "diverge." That's because the state AGs are elected officials who may have to appeal to their constituents, while he is an appointed official.

"But I think at this point it's safe to say it's strong [bipartisanship]," Delrahim said. "The states and Justice Department agree as far as a direction of an investigation."

EU may need to regulate tech giants' data use: EU antitrust chief.
EU may need to regulate tech giants' data use: EU antitrust chief

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