The House Judiciary Committee is joining the rush to investigate big technology companies with a focus on whether increased concentration in the industry is crowding out competition and hurting consumers.
Congress’s investigation will address three issues, according to a committee statement released Monday. The hearings, led by the Antitrust Subcommittee, will focus on competition in digital markets, anti-competitive conduct of “dominant firms,” and whether current laws and enforcement policies are adequate.
“There is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications,” Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the committee said in a statement. “Given the growing tide of concentration and consolidation across our economy, it is vital that we investigate the current state of competition in digital markets and the health of the antitrust laws.”
The move comes as the U.S. government sets the stage for formal inquiries and escalated pressure on the companies amid increasing criticism that their practices are harming competition in digital markets.
After years of a light regulatory touch for the industry, enforcers are on the verge of opening broad investigations that could yield significant changes to how the companies do business.
The Federal Trade Commission will take responsibility for antitrust probes of Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., while the Justice Department is set to open an investigation of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, according to people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department will also oversee scrutiny of Apple Inc., Reuters reported.
Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, also threw his support behind the probe. He said that with the “huge role” that technology plays in the economy and modern world, there are questions that have arisen about “whether the market remains competitive.”
“Our bipartisan look at competition in the digital markets gives us the chance to answer these questions,” Collins said. “And, if necessary, to take action.