Abuses

House Antitrust Chair Says Big Tech Abuses Gatekeeper Power

(Bloomberg) — Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. abuse their power as gatekeepers of the internet, said the head of a House antitrust panel who’s poised to propose legislative changes to rein in the technology giants.

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“Each platform uses their gatekeeper position to protect their own power,” said Representative David Cicilline, who chairs a House antitrust panel that’s spent more than a year probing the dominance of the internet platforms. “By controlling the infrastructure of the digital age, they have surveilled other businesses to identify potential rivals — and ultimately bought out, copied, or cut off their competitive threats.”

Cicilline, who spoke Thursday during a hearing with experts on competition law, is preparing a final report recommending changes to the legislative and regulatory framework. That report is expected to be released as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg testified voluntarily in July before the subcommittee. Cicilline criticized their testimony as being evasive and non-responsive and said “they raised new questions about whether they believe their companies are beyond oversight.”

Representatives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Cicilline’s remarks.

Among the recommendations that Cicilline has floated is a prohibition against running a platform and competing on it at the same time. That would potentially bar Google from bidding in the online ad exchanges it operates or stop Amazon from providing a marketplace for independent merchants while selling its own products.

Cicilline has said he wants bipartisan support for his ideas, but hasn’t revealed whether he has Republican support for his proposals.

The GOP typically views changes to antitrust law skeptically. Although some of the committee’s Republicans have been critical of some of the