The House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust has finally released the result of their 16-month investigation into Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.
The Democratic report found that the companies enjoy monopoly power in the following areas:
- Apple: distribution of software apps on iOS devices.
- Amazon: most third-party sellers and many suppliers.
- Facebook: online advertising and social networking.
- Google: online search.
The committee suggests that Congress take up changes to antitrust laws that could result in parts of their businesses being separated.
In particular, the Democrats recommended the following actions:
- Imposing structural separations and prohibiting dominant platforms from entering adjacent lines of business. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I. has previously referred to this method as a type of “Glass-Steagall” law for the internet, referring to the 1930s era law that separated commercial from investment banking.
- Instructing antitrust agencies to presume mergers by dominant platforms to be anticompetitive, shifting the burden onto the merging parties to prove their deal would not harm competition, rather than making enforcers prove it would.
- Preventing dominant platforms from preferencing their own services, instead making them offer “equal terms for equal products and services.”
- Requiring dominant firms to make their services compatible with competitors and allow users to transfer their data.
- Overriding “problematic precedents” in antitrust case law.
- Requiring the Federal Trade Commission to regularly collect data on concentration.
- Increase budgets for the FTC and Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
- Strengthen private enforcement by eliminating forced arbitration clauses and limits on class action lawsuits.
The Republican members of the committee do not support all of the measures, including imposing structural separations, and will also be releasing a report on bias against Conservatives in online platforms.
The investigation scoured through nearly 1.3 million documents and the resulting report is 450 pages long, and can be seen at CBCN here.
The findings may impact the ongoing litigation against Apple in USA by Epic, who is accusing Apple of abusing their monopoly on the distribution of software on the iOS platform.