Today, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee; David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law; and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law sent document requests as part of its bipartisan investigation into competition in digital markets. These requests were served to the four major online platforms, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
“The open Internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online. But there is growing evidence that a handful of corporations have come to capture an outsized share of online commerce and communications,” Nadler said. “It is increasingly difficult to use the Internet without relying on these services. The documents requested will provide the Committee with a better understanding of the degree to which these intermediaries enjoy market power, how they are using that market power, whether they are using their market power in ways that have harmed consumers and competition, and how Congress should respond.”
“We made it clear when we launched this bipartisan investigation that we plan to get all the facts we need to diagnose the problems in the digital marketplace. Today’s document requests are an important milestone in this investigation as we work to obtain the information that our Members need to make this determination,” Cicilline said. “We expect stakeholders to use this opportunity to provide information to the Committee to ensure that the Internet is an engine for opportunity for everyone, not just a select few gatekeepers.”
“The Judiciary Committee is investigating the relationship between big tech and market competition,” said Collins. “We are continuing to hold hearings and roundtables, but we need more information. Today, we are issuing formal document requests and other requests for written information from big tech companies about their business practices. This information is key in helping determine whether anticompetitive behavior is occurring, whether our antitrust enforcement agencies should investigate specific issues and whether or not our antitrust laws need improvement to better promote competition in the digital markets.”
“This committee is charged with evaluating the effectiveness of our current antitrust laws,” said Sensenbrenner. “I appreciate the willingness of certain tech companies to come before our committee and answer questions. However, we still need more information about their business practices at this fact-finding stage of this investigation. Again, I stress to my colleagues that a bipartisan outcome will require an open-minded process.”
The Committee announced on June 3, 2019 that this top-to-bottom review led by the Antitrust Subcommittee will focus on three main areas: (1) documenting competition problems in digital markets; (2) examining whether dominant firms are engaging in anti-competitive conduct; and (3) assessing whether existing antitrust laws, competition policies, and current enforcement levels are adequate to address these issues.
Under the direction of Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Cicilline and Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law has held a series of hearings on the effects of market power online. The Subcommittee has also held a series of Member round tables and staff briefings with market participants, stakeholders, and leading experts.
The letters are available here.