On Friday September 13, the Antitrust Panel of the House Judiciary Committee sent out letters to Amazon.com, Inc.(NASDAQ:AMZN), Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Google, and Apple. Each of the letters contain a range of questions for the big tech companies dwelling on competition issues in the digital markets. Notably, the letters request information which will facilitate a probe into wide-ranging issues.
Information on acquisitions
In the letters sent separately to each of the tech giants, the Judiciary Committee intends to find out more details on the acquisitions the companies made. Further, the panel would like to have details on past investigations which the companies faced. The committee expects to get a full response from each of the targets not later than the 14th of October.
According to Facebook’s letter, the committee seeks information on “competition in digital markets.” Specifically, the committee intends to have better understand whether the company is engaging itself in anticompetitive activities. Others issues include Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, WhatsApp among others.
Amazon, on the other hand, was requested to provide details on the acquisition of Zappos, Whole Foods, and Audible among others. Further, Amazon will need to provide information about major rivals for product lines like Alexa and Whole Foods. Similarly, Google (via Alphabet) and Apple will need to answer questions related to competition, revenue generation, and acquisitions.
Companies have captured outsized share of online commerce
In a statement quoted by The Verge, the committee’s chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler said “there is growing evidence that a handful of corporations have come to capture an outsized share of online commerce and communications.” As such, the requested information should enable the committee to understand how the companies leverage their market share.
Interestingly, this is not the first time the big tech companies are coming under the microscope by regulators and politicians. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initiated an antitrust probe against Google. Ultimately, the FTC determined that the tech giant was not culpable for the charges. However, the Department of Justice targeted Google in June this year for allegedly violating antitrust laws. Shortly afterwards, the FTC announced it would investigate Facebook on similar charges.