The U.S. Justice Department said on July 23 that it was opening a broad investigation of “market-leading” online platforms to review if they engage in practices that reduce competition, stifle innovation or harm consumers. Without specifying the companies that would be probed, it said that “search, social media, and some retail services online” companies would be reviewed. This could be a reference to Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division. It also said that the department was gathering information from the public, including industry participants who have direct insight into competition in online platforms, as well as others. “If violations of law are identified, the department will proceed appropriately to seek redress,” it  added.

Big tech has constantly been probed for violating anti-trust laws

  • Before this, the House Judiciary Committee, in early June, launched an investigation into companies like Facebook and Google to determine whether they were abusing their market dominance and violating antitrust laws.
  • It was also reported last month that the Justice Department was granted authority to investigate Apple for potential antitrust violations.
  • In May, reports came out claiming that an antitrust investigation of Google from the US Department of Justice was imminent because of the company’s search business.
  • At Attorney General Barr’s confirmation hearing in January this year, he told senators that he would like to see the Justice Department take a harder look at whether companies like Google and Amazon were abusing their market dominance.

Also Read: The US Dept of Justice’s antitrust division chief lays out anti-competition arguments against tech firms