According to Bloomberg, the House of Representatives investigates whether big technology companies have potential violations of antitrust laws and is seeking information from Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook customers about the competitive nature of the digital market and the suitability of existing enforcement. This is the latest development of a bipartisan congress investigation conducted by Mr. David Cicilline, the chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee and a Democrat from Rhode Island. The survey of eight-page did not mention any company names, but it sought information about the industries dominated by them, such as app stores and mobile apps, messaging, digital ads, search engines, social media, online logistics and commerce, and the cloud computing.
The respondents were asked in the survey to recognize the top five providers of various digital services and the fees paid to these providers since January 1, 2016. It also requires any allegations of business conduct or antitrust violations that would undermine competition. The committee will provide the respondent with the possibility of confidentiality if needed. The panel asked to give the responses of the survey by mid-October. The survey appears to be aimed at companies that pay cloud computing, digital advertising, and services that help to sell online mobile apps and products to big technology companies. It does not seem to be concerned with the average retail consumer who buys products from Amazon or buys an iPhone from Apple.
Also, it showed how regulators rely on Big Tech customers and competitors to help them understand the digital market and how dominant players can asphyxiate competition. The Federal Trade Commission interviewed online merchants who sell goods on Amazon to understand the business. The survey sent to customers was released after the public disclosure of letters sent by the House Antitrust Subcommittee to Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Facebook Inc. These online published letters seek detailed information about acquisitions, executive communications, business conduct, previous investigations, and litigation. Additionally, these letters were sent after the July hearing, in which lawmakers burned down technical executives. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is probing Facebook and Amazon, while the Justice Department is investigating Google.