A week after representatives from Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple appeared at a House subcommittee hearing last week to answer questions about potential antitrust allegations, the U.S. Justice Department has opened a broad investigation of “market-leading online platforms”.
“The Department of Justice announced today that the Department’s Antitrust Division is reviewing whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers”, the DOJ’s announcement
reads, adding that the review “will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online”, most likely referring to Google, Facebook and Amazon.
In recent months, calls for regulation of “big tech” have gotten louder, with proponents of government action arguing that the companies mentioned above have become too powerful and need to be scrutinized and possibly reined in by the government. To prevent such a thing from happening and make their case on Capitol Hill, tech companies have ramped up their lobbying spending significantly in recent years. As the following chart shows, Google, Amazon
, Facebook and Apple spent a combined total of $55 million on D.C. lobbying last year, up 11 percent from the year before and a whopping 500 percent compared to 2010. According to figures filed with the Senate Office of Public Records
this week, both Facebook and Amazon spent a record amount on lobbying in the second quarter of 2019 as they are bracing for the so-called “techlash”.