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    Congress, DOJ Launch Antitrust Investigation Into Big Tech Monopolies, Business Practices

    Congress, DOJ Launch Antitrust Investigation Into Big Tech Monopolies, Business Practices

    Pelosi: “The era of self-regulation is over.”

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    The House Judiciary Committee announced on Monday that it would launch an antitrust investigation into big technology like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also announced their own investigation into these companies.

    The fact is these companies gained their success from the market. They are market-driven monopolies.

    The United States implemented antitrust laws to target companies that practice unethical business practices to put the competition out of business and then absorb said competition.

    House Judiciary Committee

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted on Monday that “[T]he era of self-regulation is over.”

    That statement should scare everyone to their core.

    From USA Today:

    “The growth of monopoly power across our economy is one of the most pressing economic and political challenges we face today,” Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., who chairs the panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said in a statement.

    “After four decades of weak antitrust enforcement and judicial hostility to antitrust cases, it is vital for Congress to step in to determine whether existing laws are adequate to tackle abusive conduct by platform gatekeepers or if we need new legislation,” Cicilline said,

    Cicilline promised “depositions, public hearings, and document requests.” He even said that citizens “seem to have forgotten that there’s a reason that we have the antitrust statute.”

    Cicilline also wants to target “Google and Facebook’s massive shares of digital ad spending, which has drastically reduced ad sales for media companies.”

    According to Cicilline, the investigation is vital to the survival of our democracy. First off, America is a republic.

    Second, companies place their ads where they can reach the most people. This is common sense. The majority of people use Facebook. Therefore companies prefer Facebook for their ads.

    The tech companies provided no comments or statements to publications, but I wonder if the news ticked them off since so many have given donations to those who launched this investigation. The Daily Beast reported that “[F]ifteen of the committee’s Democrats received a combined $152,000 last cycle from the political action committees of Google, Facebook, and Amazon (unlike those three, Apple does not have a corporate PAC)” while they also “donated $74,000 to ten Judiciary Republicans last cycle.”

    DOJ, FTC

    Cicilline opted for his own investigation because he doesn’t believe the DOJ and FTC “will get the job done.”

    The DOJ and FTC agreed that the DOJ will have jurisdiction over “Apple Inc as part of a broader review of whether technology giants are using their size to act in an anti-competitive manner, two sources told Reuters” while the FTC will take jurisdiction on “antitrust probes of Apple and Google” and others.

    The FTC will concentrate on Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram.

    From The Washington Examiner:

    The DOJ and FTC have reached an agreement with each other in divvying up investigative responsibilities against the big tech firms. The DOJ was given jurisdiction over any inquiries of possible monopolistic activities carried out by Apple and Google, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., while the FTC will be responsible for any improper behavior by Amazon and Facebook.

    It is not yet known when these new investigations might begin, but some of the tech giant stock prices took a tumble on Monday with talk of investigative action.

    As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, this news is not shocking as it has fomented for some time. This caused the big tech companies to flood Washington, DC, with lobbyists and lawyers. They also took other steps:

    The internet industry—Google, Facebook and Amazon in particular—poured money into lobbying in the capital at a record pace in 2018. The industry total reached $77.9 million, compared with $16.4 million a decade earlier, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Google parent Alphabet alone spent $21.7 million in 2018, while Amazon came in at $14.4 million and Facebook at $12.6 million.

    Tech industry investments in think tanks and other nonprofits in the antitrust space also have ticked up in recent years. Google recently funded more than 30 nonprofit groups that have a voice in the public debate over antitrust, according to Google’s transparency report. Those groups include major think tanks on the left and center left, as well as numerous conservative and libertarian groups and institutions. Amazon funds many of the same groups, according to its investment list.

    Privacy Data Laws

    It looks like these investigations have nothing to do with America’s privacy data laws.

    Facebook “has faced setbacks in two major court cases – one in Delaware and one in the District of Columbia” over the way the company handles private data of its users. The Washington Examiner reported:

    The Delaware case, brought against the company by Facebook shareholders, focuses on the $120 billion in shareholder value that was wiped out in July 2018 after Facebook financial disclosures that came in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations. In October 2018, the Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local No. 79 General Fund (a major Facebook shareholder) filed a complaint in Delaware’s Court of Chancery, seeking to inspect Facebook’s books and records. Other shareholders soon joined the suit.

    On Friday, Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights ruled in their favor and allowed their case to move forward, saying that the shareholders who brought the lawsuit “have sustained their minimal burden to demonstrate a credible basis of wrongdoing justifying the inspection of certain of the company’s books and records.” The 57-page opinion from Slights stated that “Facebook shall produce for inspection the books and records designated herein as essential to plaintiffs’ pursuit of their proper purpose.”

    D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a separate complaint against Facebook in December 2018 claiming that the company “broke District law and did not follow its own policies to protect the privacy of more than 340,000 Facebook users who reside in the District.” Facebook argued that Racine’s claims couldn’t withstand scrutiny and that the D.C. court lacked jurisdiction, and tried to dismiss or stay the proceedings.

    But on Friday, Fern Flanagan Saddler, an associate judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, made it clear that he didn’t agree with Facebook.

    “This case presents the novel issue of personal jurisdiction in the realm of online social media and the distribution and maintenance of Face book users’ personal data,” Saddler said in a 33-page order. “Based upon the arguments of counsel, the parties’ filings, and the entire record herein, Defendant Facebook, Inc.’s motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, to stay proceedings, is hereby denied.“

    I don’t know about you, but my concerns lie with the private data. However, we all know this happens, and we have a choice to use Facebook, Google, etc.

    Don’t like Facebook? Use Minds.

    Don’t like Google? Use one of the other browsers or search engines available to us consumers.

    This should concern every citizen. These investigations are one step closer to the federal government regulating the entire internet. But they are our betters, so they know best for us.

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    Comments



     
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    hopp singg | June 4, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Regulation? No thanks.

    Break ’em up.


     
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    Terence G. Gain | June 4, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Facebook has monopoly power and should be regulated like a common carrier. It makes no sense to say – “use another platform’. Everybody is on Facebook. I am currently under suspension by Facebook for the comment reproduced below, which was in reply to someone who said: Muslimes (sic) are stuck in the 7th century. So under Facebook’s rules one is not even allowed to suggest that “love your neighbour” is more enlightened than “kill your neighbour if he leaves Islam or refuses to join”. Facebook is run by fascists and nothing good will come from this monopoly power . It needs to be curbed.

    ……………..

    Muslimes are stuck in the 7th century. Their stone age laws have no place in this century

    Reply
    Terry Gain says
    Jun 1, 2019 at 9:58 am
    Actually Muslims are stuck in BC. The 7th century came after the enlightenment brought by Christ

    For now, these are just investigations. No one is proposing any regulations. However, it is clear that these monopolies need to be broken up. We can’t have corporations collecting all of our private information, processing it, reselling it to advertisers (or giving it away outright to the government) and expect that our constitutional rights will survive. This process is called “surveillance capitalism”.

    It doesn’t matter who does it. It has to be done. Has anyone stopped to wonder why all of the Masters of the Universe (MOTUs) want to go to Mars? Why are these publicly-traded companies taking government money to engage in activities that are not reported to shareholders? If they were broken up, we would find out.

    These MOTU companies are the means global government is being imposed upon us as we pay for it using their “free” services that report every single detail of our lives. So this isn’t just a parlor discussion debating the fine points of conservatism vs libertarianism vs socialism vs whatever. We need to get this right and very soon.


       
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      rdmdawg in reply to Pasadena Phil. | June 4, 2019 at 9:54 pm

      ‘We can’t have corporations collecting all of our private information, processing it, reselling it to advertisers (or giving it away outright to the government) and expect that our constitutional rights will survive.’

      Nobody forces anyone to deal with these corporations, and social media is hardly a necessity in most people’s lives. There exists plenty of competition to each of these platforms.

      You want to know who does have the power to force you to do something you don’t want to do, to take away all that you own, to destroy your life? That would be government, and you’re still calling for the expansion of government power. Thanks but no thanks.


     
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    Terence G. Gain | June 4, 2019 at 10:39 pm

    The more serious threat from Google, Facebook and Twitter is that they control and censor information. This is more powerful than political office.


     
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    PersonofInterests | June 5, 2019 at 9:41 am

    I remember the day when Cable was regulated and it cost me about $20/month with National Cable that included HBO and Showtime. Now, my Comcast Bill just for the Internet is almost $100/month, i.e., no entertainment without buying an Amazon Firestick and subscrbing to apps like Netflix, Playstation Vue, and others to stream.

    I remember the day when Cable touted superiority because they didn’t have advertisements while Analog Free TV did. Fast forward to today and just like Analog TV of yore, about 50% of the viewing time is consumed with advertisement but now I’m paying for it – stuff I will never buy.

    If that were not enough, the regions of the Country are carved up like a turkey and no more than one or none other internet service provider is avaialbe, i.e., no competititon to bring down prices as “Deregulation” was suppose to foster. You either buy Comcast or Frontier in our area.

    Didn’t the American Taxpayers fund the development of the Internet? So why are we paying $100/month just for the Internet??


       
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      The Friendly Grizzly in reply to PersonofInterests. | June 5, 2019 at 11:22 am

      I live in a town of about 65,000 people. I can get high speed internet (not great, but it works) from AT&T, I get very good speeds from Comcast/Xfinity, albeit for a rather steep price, and I can get 10 mbps (enough for some, not for me) from CenturyStink. Soon, I will also have up to 10gbps via fiber from Bright Ridge, and Verizon is, even in our little burg, expected to have 5G by next spring at the latest.

      YMMV.

      I, too, recall the “$20.00” cable, that in reality was about $32 to $35. It was also when I bought a very nice new car for $4,500; my electricity was $.0,4/kWh; gasoline was under a buck, and ground beef was still priced in cents per pound.


         
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        PersonofInterests in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | June 5, 2019 at 11:51 am

        Sorry Grizz, but when cars sold for $4500, it was in the 60s and before Cable and the $20 price tag that I bought in the 90s.

        The point is that with or without regulation, the Sheeple are bing sheared.


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