The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has confirmed that it is opening a sweeping antitrust investigation into major technology companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, under the auspice of Attorney General William Barr.

The dominant position of large technology companies in their respective markets is coming under ever-closer scrutiny of late: Amazon is being investigated for abusing its Marketplace sellers, Broadcom has been fined excluding rivals from the baseband market and is appealing a guilty verdict from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Facebook is facing a £4 billion fine for breaching a privacy consent decree signed in 2011.

Bigger is still to come, though, with confirmation from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) that it is to work with the FTC to investigate antitrust complaints against major companies including, but not limited to, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

The DOJ's investigation was uncovered by and confirmed to the Wall Street Journal this week, though has not yet been formally announced. According to the WSJ's sources, the sweeping review will concentrate on the potentially monopolistic practices of companies in the search, social media, and online retail sectors, and will be led by US Attorney General William Barr.

Those found guilty of monopolistic activities under the investigation may, the WSJ's sources claim, face punishment by both the DOJ and the FTC simultaneously. 'Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands,' DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said in a statement issued to the WSJ. 'The department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.'

The companies named in the WSJ's report have not yet publicly responded to the news.

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October 14 2021 | 15:04