US House subcommittee proposes imposing structural requirements on Google, Amazon, and others over anti-trust concerns

A US House of Representatives subcommittee issued a mammoth report urging curbs to the structure of Google, Amazon and other giant tech firms.
Written by Tiernan Ray, Senior Contributing Writer

The antitrust subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives is proposing structural limits on mega-cap tech, described in a 449-page report by the subcommittee, Bloomberg's Ben Brody and David McLaughlin report.

The findings are the result of a 16-month investigation into the mega-cap firms.

According to the authors, "The report's most draconian recommendation is for Congress to consider legislation that would either prevent tech companies from owning different lines of businesses, which could lead to a breakup of the companies, or impose certain organizational structures on the companies."

Shares of the mega-caps sold off slightly in late trading.

The Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law is chaired by Rep. David Cicilline, Democrat from Rhode Island  

The full report can be read here. In the executive summary at the top, the subcommittee states that the benefits of the companies' power have come with great costs:

To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons. Although these firms have delivered clear benefits to society, the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google has come at a price. These firms typically run the marketplace while also competing in it-a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another, or to engage in a form of their own private quasi regulation that is unaccountable to anyone but themselves.

The effects of this significant and durable market power are costly. The Subcommittee's series of hearings produced significant evidence that these firms wield their dominance in ways that erode entrepreneurship, degrade Americans' privacy online, and undermine the vibrancy of the free and diverse press. The result is less innovation, fewer choices for consumers, and a weakened democracy.

The report goes on to say:

Over the course of the investigation, the Subcommittee uncovered evidence that the antitrust agencies failed, at key occasions, to stop monopolists from rolling up their competitors and failed to protect the American people from abuses of monopoly power. Forceful agency action is critical.

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