The American authorities decided to find out whether are not abusing Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to its dominant position in the market and are preparing to conduct an antitrust investigation. More about this June 3, told the news Agency Reuters. According to him, the Federal trade Commission (FTC) will check Amazon and Facebook, and the Ministry of justice — Apple and Google. Departments should answer the question, does, in principle, the size of the company competition.
Also started its own investigation and the Judicial Committee of the house of representatives of the Congress of the United States. And besides Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google him to check the other major players. On Tuesday, June 5, Congressman David Ciciline said that CEOs will be asked to testify, as well as the companies may request documents, including through subpoenas. Failure to comply with its requirements is considered in the United States in contempt of Congress and can be prosecuted in court. But the investigation itself however, is not directed against any specific companies, his goal is to learn how to work the entire technology industry.
From neither the FTC nor DOJ, nor caught in the spotlight of the Corporation did not comment on the situation. And sources reported that the parties it is still not discussed. Only later Apple CEO Tim cook said that the company does not apply to monopolists. “[Apple] does not have a dominant position in any market, the share of smartphone sales in the United States is not more than 35% [of the total], and computers — even less,” he said. In The Wall Street Journal calculated that in 2018 the iPhone accounted for about 41% of sales in the American market, and also came to the conclusion that the company is hardly a monopoly. And is that the closed nature of the App Store allows you to control which apps will be available on its devices, and which are not. Reuters just noticed that Tim cook with his statement exactly the same day when it became known that a group of developers filed for a Corporation to court, accusing it of abuse of a dominant position on the market — according to them, it currently takes 30% of revenue from sales of apps does not allow prices below $0.99, and requires that they end at 99 cents. Previously, the U.S. Supreme court allowed the users dissatisfied with the pricing policy of the company, also to file lawsuits against her.
No reason to be afraid. Or is there?
The question would violate the technological giants of the antitrust laws of the United States, long been a matter of local debate. But now Silicon valley was under the gun of the administration of President Donald trump, his opponents, the Congress and of consumers are generally almost all noted in The New York Times.
And the market has shown that indeed the fears of separation giants: on Monday, on the news, Apple shares fell by 1.01%, Amazon fell by 4.64%, Facebook — by 7.51%, and Alphabet (owned by Google) — 6.12%. However, the next day they recovered along with the entire American stock market after the statements of the head of the Federal reserve system (the fed) Jerome Powell about a possible decline in interest rates.
But companies don’t have to worry about a possible antitrust investigation, said a Professor from the law school of Harvard University and Noah Feldman. At least not yet. In an article for Bloomberg, the expert noted that current us laws, in fact, does not prohibit the existence of monopolies and allow companies to charge high prices and try to achieve a dominant position aggressive methods.
But it is quite another thing when companies are involved in what American law calls “anticompetitive behaviour”. For example, it may be a dramatic lowering of prices to drive a competitor from the market and then increase, exclusive arrangements with suppliers or merging several products into one to get an edge over the similar products of competitors etc. So that the actions of companies, not their size and should look to government regulators.
Noah Feldman proposes to consider anti-competitive behavior through the prism of prejudice to the consumer, and not for other players in the market. That is, if the solutions do not harm the end user, they should be considered legitimate.
The opportunity to renew the legislation
But the problem is the corporations can still occur if the authorities decide to “modernize” the antitrust laws for the first time in decades. And just in time for this and may result in an investigation against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, experts say The New York Times. And this is another headache, lawsuits, fines and restrictions. On the other hand, it may take years before regulators take any action, and Congress new laws. Moreover, past attempts takes a lot of time.
For example, the case against IBM lasted for 13 years and finally was dismissed as “groundless” trial with AT&T lasted for ten years, and Microsoft — all of 12 years. One of the reasons for such protracted processes — if a company became big enough to cause questions to their dominant position in the market, so she has a lot of lobbyists and lawyers to fight charges.
Companies that can “present”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press listed the possible claims that the authorities can present technogiant. Facebook critics remembered his Grand reach — around 2.4 billion users — and the problems with the security of their data, and also drew attention to WhatsApp and Instagram, after the acquisition of which the company has allegedly left the real competition among the social networks. Its leadership, by the way, agrees that “with success comes responsibility,” but notes that it is impossible to force to responsibility, encouraging successful American company to collapse. In addition, the Corporation stressed that she already has competitors in the field of messaging, and digital communication — the same Google and Apple.
Google, by the way, is accused of using his position as the leading search engine and an authoritarian approach to manufacturers of smartphones running on Android. Critics explain that in the first case it allows to display in the results their products above the competition, and the second — to dictate which apps should be preinstalled on the devices. As for the advertising business of Google, it is us officials believe a lack of transparency.
In February, the investigation can focus on claims that the company monopolisitic application market and inflate their prices. But Amazon is undoubtedly dominates the market for Internet-retail — according to experts ‘ expectations, this year its share in online sales in the U.S. will be about 50%. In addition, Forbes remembered that criticized the company, saying she copies the goods to small retailers, and then sells them under its brand.
But although legislators and concerned about tech giants and their actions, consensus on exactly how the authorities should react on, is not among them, concluded in The Wall Street Journal.
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