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The Big Antitrust Cases You Need To Know About

Government and Big Tech are preparing to go toe-to-toe.
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Various federal agencies and state attorneys general are launching competition-focused probes and lawsuits against Big Tech,” WSJ writes.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Google in late October, alleging the tech giant was “using anti-competitive tactics to preserve a monopoly for its flagship search-engine business.”

The Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook on the grounds of “buying and freezing out small startups to choke competition.” The FTC is seeking a scenario where Facebook offloads and unwinds its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which could be incredibly problematic for the social-media giant, given how the businesses have integrated.

State Lawsuits:

  1. Ten states dropped an antitrust suit on Google this week. They accuse Google of “running an illegal digital-advertising monopoly and enlisting rival Facebook Inc. in an alleged deal to rig ad auctions.”
  2. A coalition of 46 states, including the District of Columbia and Guam, launched an antitrust suit against Facebook similar to the FTC’s one. They allege Facebook’s lack of competition has harmed consumers.
  3. Colorado is leading another group of states expected to file another separate antitrust suit against Google.

Congress:

  1. An investigation by House Democrats “recently concluded that Amazon holds monopoly powers over third-party sellers on its site and that Apple exerts monopoly power through its App Store.” These, plus other findings targeting Big Tech, could lead to new legislation.
  2. Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reforms of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which cuts digital platforms a free pass from liability for their users’ online content. The GOP alleges these companies “censor conservative viewpoints.”

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into a Trump administration request to take another look at Section 230, basically for the same reasons as Senate Republicans. Big Tech is expected to fire back, citing the first amendment and free speech.

Justin Oh:

We sold out of Alphabet ($GOOG) on the Big Board a while ago as a result of being most concerned about the regulation with Google. 

I am currently less concerned about Facebook ($FB) because it’s less coherent to claim that acquisitions are “anti-competitive” or that copying tech features is any different from what has been done since the beginning of competition. The one worry I have here is the alleged collusion they might have had with Google. 

I am not worried about Amazon ($AMZN) right now. The value of being the homepage of shopping doesn’t take too much of a hit if they need to “play fair” with their in-house products.

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