What you need to know
- The U.S. will begin antitrust probes into Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
- Both Democrats and Republicans support opening investigations into the tech companies.
- Following the news stock prices took a dip for each of the four tech giants.
The U.S. government is looking to crack down on some of the biggest names in the tech industry with an antitrust probe. The investigation would explore whether or not Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have abused their power to establish a dominant position in the market.
Antitrust laws in the U.S. are enforced by two different departments, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. With an investigation of this scope and size, the two departments have decided to split the companies between the agencies.
The FTC will oversee the probe into Amazon and Facebook, while the DOJ will look into Apple and Google. During the inspection, the FTC and DOJ will next decide whether to open a full investigation into each company. This might take some time considering the FTC took more than two years with one of its previous probes into Google.
However, the outlook is already not looking in favor of the tech giants. Lawmakers from both houses are supporting the investigation, and the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has already opened its own antitrust investigation for digital markets.
A Democratic senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, took to Twitter to say this about the investigation:
Their predatory power grabs demand strict & stiff investigation & antitrust action.
Republicans Lindsey Graham and Marsha Blackburn have also shown strong support for the investigations.
News of this has lead to dips in the stock market for each of the companies. Shares of Amazon fell by 4.6%, Apple saw a loss of 1%, Facebook had the largest drop with 7.5%, and Google's parent company Alphabet saw a loss of more than 6% overall.
A dip in the stock market could be just the tip of the iceberg though. If a full investigation is approved it could lead to regulations, huge fines, or even forcing the tech giants to break up into smaller companies.
While that last one isn't all that common, it is also not unheard of, with AT&T being a prime example after it was forced to split into eight companies in 1984.