In a move that has the potential to dramatically disrupt Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, the U.S. Justice Department announced that its antitrust division is “reviewing whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power.”
The DOJ, in its announcement Tuesday, didn’t identify which companies it is looking into as part of the investigation. Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple are the biggest and most powerful companies in the sector.
It’s the latest political shot across the bow against the tech industry, which has gained critics across the ideological spectrum.
“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 DOJ’s Antitrust Division said in a statement. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
In the past few months, media outlets reported that the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission were considering launching antitrust probes into large tech companies.
The DOJ on Tuesday said its inquiry was prompted by “widespread concerns” among consumers and businesses about “search, social media, and some retail services online.” According to the Justice Department, the probe will include an examination into whether the companies are “engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.”
The DOJ’s antitrust division is seeking information from the public, including industry participants “who have direct insight into competition in online platforms.” The agency said that if violations of law are identified, it “will proceed appropriately to seek redress.”
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