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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced the launch of a major investigation into large tech companies. The purpose of the competition investigation is to find out whether the companies are impeding unlawful competition.

The investigation is led by Attorney General William Barr and goes beyond the Federal Trade Agency’s (FTC’s) investigation with which the Justice and Home Affairs Authority shares information. In February, the FTC started a task force to monitor competition in the tech sector.

Justice research focuses on the practices of online platforms that dominate searches, retail and social media. The Ministry wants to know how such companies have grown in size and power and how they have expanded their reach into new markets. There are also questions about how companies have used their power that comes to large numbers of users.

No end goal

The Ministry of Justice says that it has no specific ultimate objective in the investigation other than to understand whether there are competition problems that need to be addressed. Officials say there are various options on the table.

The research can therefore ultimately lead to more targeted research into the specific behaviour of companies. Without the discipline of valuable market-based competition, digital platforms can behave in ways that do not meet consumer demands, said Makan Delrahim, the US Competition Commissioner. The Justice Department also says that it does not ignore practices that may raise concerns about compliance with the legislation.

Google Research

The US Ministry of Justice would also be preparing an investigation into Alphabet. This involves investigating whether the subsidiary Google is engaged in illegal monopolisation practices. However, this study has not been confirmed by the Ministry. According to the American newspaper, WSJ, however, the Ministry carries out both investigations. It is unclear if and when the two cross. Spokespeople from Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon and Apple have not responded to the newly announced investigation.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.