The House Judiciary Committee has released a report from the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law relating to their year long investigation of potential antitrust activities from Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. Running almost 450 pages, it lays out the various abuses the “Big Four” have committed over the last several years and makes recommendations for potential legislative action.
The executive summary laying out the subcommittee’s recommendations are damning but unsurprising. Facebook is characterized as having monopoly power in the social media market. Google, monopoly power in the search and search advertising markets. Amazon is accused of anticompetitive behavior with regards to e-commerce and how it handles third-party businesses, as well as its data collection methods through AWS and Alexa. As for Apple, just as Epic Games has alleged, its control over the iOS ecosystem has been determined to be anticompetitive.
As part of the investigation, each of the companies named received requests for information (RFIs) regarding certain business practices. How each company responded to those requests varies wildly. Google sent in well over a million different documents, though the report indicates, “Subcommittee staff did not view this volume as a proxy for quality.” By comparison, Apple only produced 2,246 documents, though the relative narrowness of the requests compared to Google is a point to keep in mind.
Food For Thought
A Congressional finding is not, in and of itself, legally binding. Just because the subcommittee has published a report doesn’t mean the companies involved are in legal trouble at this moment. However, the report will undoubtedly carry some weight in the minds of a judge and and jury in any antitrust cases which the Big Four find themselves in. The impending Apple v. Epic trial will almost certainly have excerpts from the report featured. Beyond that, it’s entirely likely that the next Congressional session will have antitrust legislation appearing in the wake of this report.