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After months of heightened tech scrutiny from both Republicans and Democrats, the Justice Department is opening a new antitrust investigation into large tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division. “The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
The investigation will address broad concerns over whether Big Tech is stifling competition, and will be separate from the department’s probes of Google and Apple that were reported earlier this summer and are intended to take a closer look at individual potential violations. The review reported today will look into search engines, social media platforms, and retail, but not focus on any individual company or practice.
In a press release, the Justice Department said the review “will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online.”
At Attorney General Barr’s confirmation hearing this past January, he told senators that he would like to see the Justice Department take a harder look at whether companies like Google and Amazon were abusing their market dominance.
“I’d like to have the antitrust [officials] support that effort to get more involved in reviewing the situation from a competition standpoint,” Barr said at the time. “I don’t think big is necessarily bad, but I think a lot of people wonder [how] these big behemoths have taken shape in Silicon Valley.”