The US Justice Department’s surprise announcement that it’s launching an antitrust review of the big tech companies was a very unusual move.
Federal enforcement agencies rarely announce, or even confirm, ongoing investigations into people or companies.
The move was likely a response to growing political pressure, antitrust experts said.
Ironically, it may be good news for the tech giants.
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The US Department of Justice’s surprise press release Tuesday of its Big Tech investigation was designed to send a signal to a lot of groups — but tech companies were not really one of them.
The announcement was an unusually public performance by a federal regulator which typically prizes confidentiality in such matters. That’s because it was basically a notice, intended particularly to a key figure in Congress, that the Justice Department will now be spearheading the antitrust investigations into the big tech companies, said David Balto, an antitrust lawyer in Washington D.C. with decades of experience working for and with competition regulators officials there.
For tech companies, the DOJs’ announcement was if anything, a subtle indication that the government may not come down as hard on them as it might seem, he said.
“This is good news for the companies,” Balto said.
That may seem a bit ironic, given the substance of the announcement. In its statement, the Justice Department said it would review the market power of the “leading online platforms” to see if they have thwarted competition or harmed consumers. The agency vowed to “seek redress” if it found violations, essentially threatening to sue the companies.
Read this: The Department of Justice just launched a broad probe into whether big tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, and others illegally harm competition
The announcement came as something of a surprise. Numerous reports have indicated that the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission were starting to look into the competitive practices of the big tech companies. But the agencies had declined to comment on the record for those reports. In fact, federal enforcement agencies rarely acknowledge ongoing investigations into particular people or companies.
The agency is likely responding to political pressure
Unusual as it was, the Justice Department’s move didn’t come out of nowhere. Political figures on the left and right, including senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump, have been calling for increased scrutiny of the market power of the big tech companies and
Source:: Business Insider