Trump Declares War On Silicon Valley: DoJ Launches Google Anti-Monopoly Probe…(2 Attacks…)

Saturday, June 1, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
ZeroHedge.com
Sat, 06/01/2019

Once shielded by the logic of Silicon Valley’s relentless churn of innovation – which dictated that no reigning tech empire could rule for long before going the way of Yahoo and AOL – tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google have been subjected to intensifying anti-trust pressure – Elizabeth Warren’s “Break up Big Tech”s billboard is only the latest example. Indeed, big tech trust-busting has become one of the few issues in contemporary Washington that garners genuine bipartisan support.

Since the Trump administration swept into power two years ago in spite of thinly veiled opposition from Silicon Valley – as it was later revealed, big tech effectively conspired with the Clinton campaign to hurt Trump’s chances – the drumbeat of unprecedented anti-trust scrutiny has grown steadily louder, facilitated by the president’s own publicly-voiced suspicions.

And on Friday, the levee finally broke.

Just before midnight on Friday, at the close of what was a hectic month for markets, WSJ dropped a bombshell of a story: The paper reported that the DoJ has opened an anti-trust investigation of Alphabet Inc., which could “present a major new layer of regulatory scrutiny for the search giant, according to people familiar with the matter.” The report was sourced to “people familiar with the matter,” but was swiftly corroborated by the New York Times, Bloomberg and others.

For months now, the FTC has appeared to be gearing up for a showdown with big tech. The agency – which shares anti-trust authority with the DoJ – has created a new commission that could help undo big-tech tie-ups like Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, and hired lawyers who have advanced new anti-monopoly theories that would help justify the breakup of companies like Amazon.

But as it turns out, the Trump administration’s first salvo against big tech didn’t come from the FTC; instead, this responsibility has been delegated to the DoJ, which has reportedly been tasked with supervising the investigation into Google.

That’s not super surprising, since the FTC already had its chance to nail Google with an anti-monopoly probe back in 2013. But the agency came up short. From what we can tell, it appears the administration will divvy up responsibility for any future anti-trust investigations between the two agencies, which means the FTC – which is already reportedly preparing to levy a massive fine against Facebook – could end up taking the lead in those cases.

Though WSJ didn’t specify which aspects of Google’s business might come under the microscope, a string of multi-billion-euro fines recently levied by the EU might offer some guidance. The bloc’s anti-trust authority, which has been far more eager to take on American tech giants than its American counterpart (for reasons that should be obvious to all), has fined Google over its practice of bundling software with its standard Android license, the way its search engine rankings favor its own product listings, and ways it has harmed competition in the digital advertising market.

During the height of the controversy over big tech’s abuses of sensitive user data last year, the Verge published a story speculating about how the monopolistic tendencies of each of the dominant Silicon Valley tech giants could be remedied. For Google, the Verge argued, the best remedy would be a ban on acquisitions – a strategy that has been bandied about in Congress.

The Rest…HERE

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