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US Antitrust Probe Against Tech Companies Will Ask Tech Firm Leaders To Testify

US Antitrust Probe Against Tech Companies Will Ask Tech Firm Leaders To Testify
The United States House Judiciary subcommittee conducting a probe into whether large tech companies have misused their massive market power would ask the leaders of such companies to testify before itself, said the leader of the subcommittee.
These comments were made a day after there were reports quoting sources that a similar probe was being planned against Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google  by the U.S. executive branch. Sources said that this move could create an unprecedented wide-ranging probe against a number of the largest companies of the world.
An investigation into competition in digital markets was opened on Monday by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee as there is increasing concerns among both US Republicans and Democrats about the extensive power that has been acquired by some of the most valuable companies of the world.
“It will be necessary for some of the leaders of the technology companies to be part of this conversation,” said representative David Cicillin.  The Democrat further said that a witness list was being developed by him and that “I expect a number of them will actually testify before the committee or be interviewed as part of the investigation.”
At a news conference, when asked about whether there was need for over sight of the large tech companies like Google, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “I think it's only right that people look at it,” but added that he did not see how breaking companies up would help with privacy issues. I personally have a concern about personal privacy,” McCarthy said. Noting a few companies have a lot of market control, he asked “are we allowing the market to work?”
The complexity of antitrust investigations suited them better to federal agencies, rather than Congress, said Senator Mike Lee, a Republican.
Apple did not posses any monopolistic power in the market, said the company’s Chief Executive Tim Cook while speaking in an interview with CBS News that aired on Tuesday. He claimed that just a moderate share of the smartphone market was owned by Apple’s iPhones but that was not enough to influence the market. He also said that it was not necessary to break up the company as is being urged by some US politicians.
“With size, I think scrutiny is fair. I think we should be scrutinized,” he said. But, he added, “I don't think anybody reasonable is gonna come to the conclusion that Apple's a monopoly.”
According to reports quoting sources, oversight over the four companies have been divided between the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice – which is tasked with the enforcement of antitrust laws in the United States. While the Justice Department would oversee the activities of Apple and Google, those of Amazon and Facebook would be regulated by the FTC.
The issue of sharing of 87 million user’s data by Facebook with the now closed down British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica is already being investigated by the FTC. In April, Facebook has said that it is expecting a fine of up to $5 billion to be imposed against it by the regulator over the issue.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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