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CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook conference in April. Photo: Amy Osborne/AFP/Getty Images

Tech executives and Wall Street analysts were generally surprised by the sudden antitrust squeeze planned by both the administration and the House.

Why it matters: Going into 2020, neither party wants to be seen as being asleep at the wheel when it comes to holding Big Tech accountable. 

Conventional wisdom in both Washington and on Wall Street had pegged regulatory action around privacy, First Amendment issues and advertising rules.

  • A Republican administration wasn't expected to take a hard line against the "bigness" of successful American icons.
  • After hearings focused on social media's impact on elections, Facebook and Twitter looked more vulnerable to D.C. action than Amazon, Apple and Google — which are included in new investigations by DOJ and the FTC.

The bottom line: Meaningful privacy legislation looks less likely than it did just six months ago, so regulators are looking at other approaches. 

Go deeper: What Apple, Facebook and Google each mean by "privacy"

Editor's note: This story originally described an antitrust inquiry as by House Democrats. The effort by the House Judiciary Committee is bipartisan.

Go deeper

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.