schwit1 shares a report from The Wall Street Journal: The Justice Department is opening a broad antitrust review into whether dominant technology firms are unlawfully stifling competition (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), according to department officials, adding a new Washington threat for companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The review is geared toward examining the practices of online platforms that dominate internet search, social media and retail services, the officials said.
The new antitrust inquiry is the strongest signal yet of Attorney General William Barr’s deep interest in the tech sector, and it could ratchet up the already considerable regulatory pressures facing the top U.S. tech firms. The review is designed to go above and beyond recent plans for scrutinizing the tech sector that were crafted by the department and the Federal Trade Commission. Justice Department officials said they would use the new antitrust review to seek extensive input and information from industry participants, and eventually from the dominant tech firms themselves. It isn’t yet known whether much of the information-gathering will be done on a voluntary basis or if companies eventually could be compelled by the government to turn over materials. “There is no defined end-goal yet for the Big Tech review other than to understand whether there are antitrust problems that need addressing, but a broad range of options are on the table,” the report adds. “The department’s inquiry could eventually lead to more focused investigations of specific company conduct.”