The growing list of U.S. government inquiries into Big Tech
Monday, a large group of state attorneys general led by Texas's Ken Paxton is expected to announced a new antitrust probe into Google, adding to the lengthening list of investigations into the big internet companies.
Why it matters: Big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are now facing numerous state and federal probes into their practices. These companies have historically enjoyed wide regulatory freedom in the U.S., but lawmakers and regulators want to change that — and antitrust law gives government its most powerful tools to penalize, regulate or even break up American corporations.
Here's a quick overview of the many government inquiries the companies face, from antitrust to privacy and other concerns.
- The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into some of Facebook's large acquisitions, including WhatsApp and Instagram, as part of an antitrust probe.
- A group of state attorneys general led by New York's Letitia James is looking into "whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising."
- Facebook said in July it will pay a $5 billion fine for a separate case the commission brought over the company's privacy practices.
- Facebook and its acquisitions are subject to the House Judiciary Committee's broad investigation into antitrust.
- Facebook's Calibra subsidiary is also facing ongoing scrutiny from the House Financial Services Committee as well as the Senate Banking Committee over its plans for a cryptocurrency.
- Google disclosed Friday that the Department of Justice has recently requested documents about its prior antitrust investigations, signaling the company is a target of the agency's broader probe into big tech companies.
- A group of state attorneys general led by Texas's Ken Paxton is expected to announce Monday an investigation into Google's anti-competitive practices.
- YouTube recently settled with the FTC over charges it had illegally collected children's personal information. It will pay a $170 million fine.
- Google is also facing the House Judiciary Committee's probe into big tech antitrust as it pertains to its large share of the internet search market.
- The retail giant's practices — in particular, how it competes with third-party sellers on its marketplace — are part of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust investigation of big tech companies.
- The FTC has also indicated its interest in studying Amazon's competition with third-party sellers.
- Apple is also part of the House Judiciary Committee's probe, which is looking into whether the cut that its App Store takes from software developers' revenue is anti-competitive.