Jun 5, 2019

D.C. antitrust fight takes Big Tech by surprise

Kim Hart, author of Cities

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

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In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening.

The big picture: Police responded in force in cities ranging from Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to D.C. and Denver to Louisville. In Los Angeles, police declared a stretch of downtown off limits, with Oakland issuing a similar warning.

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Supreme Court sides with California on coronavirus worship service rules

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's liberal justices, to reject a challenge to California's pandemic restrictions on worship services.

Why it matters: This is a setback for those seeking to speed the reopening of houses of worship, including President Trump.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,923,432— Total deaths: 364,836 — Total recoveries — 2,493,434Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,745,930 — Total deaths: 102,808 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.