State Attorneys Intent To Launch Their Own Antitrust Investigation Against The Giants Of Technology

A Coalition Of About 12 Attorneys General Is Prepared To Open An Investigation antitrust on the American giants of technology, reported Monday the Wall Street Journal. Specific companies were not identified in the report, but they were probably Google, Facebook, Amazon and possibly Apple.

It would act of a separate investigation of the current federal and congressional investigations. According to the report, the goal will be to find out if "a handful of dominant technology platforms are using their market power to stifle competition."

A bipartisan state effort. The band would be bi-partisan and probably include Texas, North Carolina and Mississippi, among others. An official announcement is expected next month. It is unclear whether state and federal investigations, assuming the latter progress, would be coordinated in any way or independently.

Previously, the Department of Justice (FJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached an agreement on antitrust investigations on the four companies, the MJ prosecuting Google and Apple and the FTC taking jurisdiction on Amazon and Facebook.

Dissociation on the table. And last week, FTC President Joe Simon said the government would consider disbanding companies "to restore competition", although this is not the immediate or preferred approach of the industry. FTC. Specifically, the government could "cancel acquisitions" made by one or more companies.

Facebook is looking to more closely integrate its flagship apps, Instagram and WhatsApp. One explanation is to create a unified platform for marketers. However, some critics see an attempt to prevent any potential dissolution of society. Indeed, the FTC acknowledged that it was much more difficult to separate the merged companies.

Unpredictable results. The results of these different active and emerging surveys are not at all clear. This could and will probably be years before any resolution. And any decision by the government to split one or more companies (potential solutions could be very different from one company to another) would be litigated in court.

In 1999, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson formally determined that Microsoft was an abusive monopoly. Jackson also recommended that the company be split in two: one company for Windows OS and the other for everything else.

The split never occurred, in part because Jackson's appeal had been dismissed on appeal and in part because the new Bush administration had done so. a very different perspective of competition and the market. In 2001, Microsoft reached an agreement with the Ministry of Justice, leaving the company untouched.

As in the case of Microsoft, the 2020 election could also have an impact on ongoing antitrust investigations, although this is now more difficult to predict than in 2000. Companies issued statements claiming that they were facing a highly competitive market and that they were contributing to the economy.

A trying situation. On another front, American technology companies are now subject to a 3% tax on income generated in France. This concerns companies making more than 25 million euros in France and more than 750 million worldwide. This would include all major technology companies. The tax was approved in July. Beyond the immediate concern about the tax itself, it is possible that more countries can follow the initiative of France, considering US technology companies as a source of new revenue.

Why we have to worry about it Although a resolution is probably years away, these investigations could lead to structural changes in the US digital market. Alternatively, nothing could change much. That was the case of the FTC's antitrust investigation on Google, which had been closed after Google had accepted slight changes to some of its practices.

The antitrust framework used by US regulators to decide whether to approve acquisitions or mergers is as follows: an assessment of the "harm to the consumer". In this context, most large technology companies have argued convincingly that they offer consumers comfort or lower costs.

Europeans were less persuaded by these arguments. And there are indications that US antitrust law and theory may evolve.

About the Author

Greg Sterling is a collaborative editor at Search Engine Land. He wrote a personal blog, Screenwerk, about the connection between digital media and consumer behavior in the real world. He is also Vice President of Strategy and Knowledge for the Local Search Association. Follow him on Twitter or find him on Google+.

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