US DOJ targets Apple for potential antitrust probe

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2019
The U.S. Department of Justice has received jurisdiction to launch a probe into Apple's businesses practices as part of a wider review of antitrust concerns involving large technology companies like Google.

DOJ


Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters on Monday reported the Justice Department met with the Federal Trade Commission in recent weeks to discuss jurisdiction of the potential Apple probe.

The DOJ and FTC hashed out authority over the matter at the same time as an investigation into Google, which will also be led by the Justice Department.

Last week, reports claimed the DOJ is planning to launch a probe into Google's practices as they relate to internet search and "other businesses."

The two government agencies, which split antitrust oversight duties, are ramping up scrutiny of big tech. On Saturday, a The Washington Post report said the DOJ would be tasked with watching Google as the FTC monitors Amazon. Facebook, another tech giant under constant scrutiny for its handling of user data, will be examined by the FTC, according to a Reuters report on Monday.

While the agencies have yet to make their plans public, the recent reports suggest a major government initiative to curtail or even dismantle bit tech's industry power is in the works.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 20,405member
    This is plainly a fishing expedition.

    There are just too many of these people with too much time (and taxpayer money) on their grubby little hands.
    bshankviclauyycsilverwarlocjony0
  • Reply 2 of 25
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,630member
    Google needs Apple who needs Google.

    End of story.

    What worries me is the reduction in the numbers of different Android handset makers. That could make Google's Pixel a dominant phone brand in the future.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,319member
    They want backdoor access to all devices and then their “investigation” will disappear. 
    mwhiteviclauyycjony0
  • Reply 4 of 25
    pslicepslice Posts: 152member
    This is plainly in response to Apple’s privacy efforts. DOJ, Barr dummies, goes after anything that doesn’t jump to Trump’s tune. Sickening.
    bshankrob53gilly33minicoffeejony0
  • Reply 5 of 25
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 18,019member
    pslice said:
    This is plainly in response to Apple’s privacy efforts. DOJ, Barr dummies, goes after anything that doesn’t jump to Trump’s tune. Sickening.

    DOJ has been looking at tech for years, going back to 2013.  There has been a ton of public interest and concern about Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon.  It's an issue that crosses party lines, with Trump's DOJ taking a closer look, right through Elizabeth Warren's statements about breaking up Amazon.  Whether or not they find violations is anyone's guess.  
    ChampionPowerbrasiljony0
  • Reply 6 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,677member
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 7 of 25
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.
    badmonk
  • Reply 8 of 25
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,043member
    They want backdoor access to all devices and then their “investigation” will disappear. 
    You have to wonder if there is ulterior motives going on here. The only thing they can go after is the app store, and it they break up the app store then apple security argument falls apart then you fall into the google realm where you can now side load software and it makes it hard for apple to stop it. 
    bshank
  • Reply 9 of 25
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.
    There are many issues with practices at Apple that are not precisely an issue of being a monopoly.  . Their resistance to traditional rights of the user base like the right to repair is an issue that needs to be addressed.   The App Store for iOS devices is another area where the force of law may need to be applied.  The reality is one doesn’t need to be a monopoly to engage in illegal or anti competitive activities.   Frankly Apple has really gone evil over the last decade or so, they have really pissed many people off so I can imagine there is a growing pressure in Washington to do something.  
  • Reply 10 of 25
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    pslice said:
    This is plainly in response to Apple’s privacy efforts. DOJ, Barr dummies, goes after anything that doesn’t jump to Trump’s tune. Sickening.
    You are so far off mark here that it brings into question your ability to judge what is happening in Washington.  For one thing there is a huge push from the left to tear these companies apart.   Just look at comments from E. Warren and others.  

    Frankly in this era of division, the desire to hold these companies accountable for their actions cross party lines.   I wouldn’t even call this a political problem as much as it is a legal frustration that has grown over more than a decade of not getting any traction with these companies.  

    As for privacy efforts being a factor, it is more a factor of companies not respecting ones privacy as the primary problem here.  Apple certainly wants you to believe that process vary is their thing but that is more of a magic act than anything else.  
  • Reply 11 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,677member
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.

    How can having a closed, proprietary platform be anti-competitive when it does not hold a monopoly or even a majority share in its respective market? Being anti-competitive means you have some way of keeping others from competing in an open market. As an example, in the 90's Microsoft disallowed OEMs from shipping systems with an alternative OS, if they wanted to license Windows. And because Windows was basically a monopoly, OEMs couldn't survive without offering Windows. That pushed out all other competitors (other than Apple).

    Sure there are some who are starting to complain about the App Store, but it's not an open, free market. It's a closed market that developers have to be allowed to enter. And Apple has the right to say, "No.", if they want. Those developers have a much larger alternative platform they can go to. If Apple were to tell iOS developers they weren't allowed to write for other platforms, then that's one way they could be considered anti-competitive, but they haven't done that.

    There are special rules for monopolies for a reason - to make sure the open/free market remains active, allowing new companies with new ideas to enter. That's how any market thrives. It is not illegal to be a monopoly, but it's a much finer line to cross to do something that could be considered anti-competitive.
    edited June 2019 bshank
  • Reply 12 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,285member
    mjtomlin said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.

    How can having a closed, proprietary platform be anti-competitive when it does not hold a monopoly or even a majority share in its respective market? Being anti-competitive means you have some way of keeping others from competing in an open market.

    Sure there are some who are starting to complain about the App Store, but it's not an open market. It's a closed market that developers have to be allowed to enter. And Apple has the right to say, "No.", if they want. If Apple were to tell iOS developers they weren't allowed to write for other platforms, then that's one way they could be considered anti-competitive, but they haven't done that.

    There are special rules for monopolies for a reason - to make sure the open/free market remains active, allowing new companies with new ideas to enter. That's how any market thrives. It is not illegal to be a monopoly, but it's a much finer line to cross to do something that could be considered anti-competitive.
    Was there any mention of any of the tech companies being investigated because they are "monopolies"? This is all preliminary stuff AFAICT and what the issues may be if anything at all hasn't been announced. You're making a whole lot of assumptions at this point. 
    anantksundaram
  • Reply 13 of 25
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,677member
    gatorguy said:
    mjtomlin said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.

    How can having a closed, proprietary platform be anti-competitive when it does not hold a monopoly or even a majority share in its respective market? Being anti-competitive means you have some way of keeping others from competing in an open market.

    Sure there are some who are starting to complain about the App Store, but it's not an open market. It's a closed market that developers have to be allowed to enter. And Apple has the right to say, "No.", if they want. If Apple were to tell iOS developers they weren't allowed to write for other platforms, then that's one way they could be considered anti-competitive, but they haven't done that.

    There are special rules for monopolies for a reason - to make sure the open/free market remains active, allowing new companies with new ideas to enter. That's how any market thrives. It is not illegal to be a monopoly, but it's a much finer line to cross to do something that could be considered anti-competitive.
    Was there any mention of any of the tech companies being investigated because they are "monopolies"? This is all preliminary stuff AFAICT and what the issues may be if anything at all hasn't been announced. You're making a whole lot of assumptions at this point. 

    Nope. I was responding to "folk fountain". See their post.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,285member
    mjtomlin said:
    gatorguy said:
    mjtomlin said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.

    How can having a closed, proprietary platform be anti-competitive when it does not hold a monopoly or even a majority share in its respective market? Being anti-competitive means you have some way of keeping others from competing in an open market.

    Sure there are some who are starting to complain about the App Store, but it's not an open market. It's a closed market that developers have to be allowed to enter. And Apple has the right to say, "No.", if they want. If Apple were to tell iOS developers they weren't allowed to write for other platforms, then that's one way they could be considered anti-competitive, but they haven't done that.

    There are special rules for monopolies for a reason - to make sure the open/free market remains active, allowing new companies with new ideas to enter. That's how any market thrives. It is not illegal to be a monopoly, but it's a much finer line to cross to do something that could be considered anti-competitive.
    Was there any mention of any of the tech companies being investigated because they are "monopolies"? This is all preliminary stuff AFAICT and what the issues may be if anything at all hasn't been announced. You're making a whole lot of assumptions at this point. 

    Nope. I was responding to "folk fountain". See their post.
    Fair enough then. 
  • Reply 15 of 25
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 13,002member
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    So being vocal means it's true? 
  • Reply 16 of 25
    mjtomlin said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.

    How can having a closed, proprietary platform be anti-competitive when it does not hold a monopoly or even a majority share in its respective market? Being anti-competitive means you have some way of keeping others from competing in an open market. As an example, in the 90's Microsoft disallowed OEMs from shipping systems with an alternative OS, if they wanted to license Windows. And because Windows was basically a monopoly, OEMs couldn't survive without offering Windows. That pushed out all other competitors (other than Apple).

    Sure there are some who are starting to complain about the App Store, but it's not an open, free market. It's a closed market that developers have to be allowed to enter. And Apple has the right to say, "No.", if they want. Those developers have a much larger alternative platform they can go to. If Apple were to tell iOS developers they weren't allowed to write for other platforms, then that's one way they could be considered anti-competitive, but they haven't done that.

    There are special rules for monopolies for a reason - to make sure the open/free market remains active, allowing new companies with new ideas to enter. That's how any market thrives. It is not illegal to be a monopoly, but it's a much finer line to cross to do something that could be considered anti-competitive.
    We are saying the same thing. Maybe I wasn't clear. Or maybe a needed a concluding sentence. Anyway, I think Apple should be fine but there is grumbling that it is not. Spotify is claiming that Apple is using its position unfairly. People are suing to open up the app store. There seems to be some dissension about the split that Apple takes. As another commenter said there are issues with right to repair with iPhones and the newer Macs. I would argue that people choose apple, and like I said in my previous comment, there are plenty of alternatives, but I think there is about to be some fights about this and I think this is what the Justice Department is after.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    The question of interest will be app store and whether (a) Apple gives preferential treatment to its own services such as Music and (b) whether Apple can act as gatekeeper and keep charging 30% to every developer.

    What matters in these investigation is always how the market is defined.

    In the overall smartphone market there is choice: if a consumer is unhappy with apple they can choose Android. That type of market definition would exonerate Apple.

    However, if DOJ decides that the market are iPhone users which don't really have an option of switching to Android due to switching costs then this calculus changes.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    wizard69 said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.
    There are many issues with practices at Apple that are not precisely an issue of being a monopoly.  . Their resistance to traditional rights of the user base like the right to repair is an issue that needs to be addressed.   The App Store for iOS devices is another area where the force of law may need to be applied.  The reality is one doesn’t need to be a monopoly to engage in illegal or anti competitive activities.   Frankly Apple has really gone evil over the last decade or so, they have really pissed many people off so I can imagine there is a growing pressure in Washington to do something.  
    I think you will see a claim of monopoly on the app store. I think they will view iOS as a market. You have lawsuits from customers right now and you have Spotify also claiming foul. I would argue that the iOS market is part of the  smartphone market and iOS is not the dominant OS in the smartphone market which means the app store is not a monopoly, but I am anticipating a move to open up the app store. If the app store is seen as being a monopoly then we could see a move on music and TV as benefiting from an unfair marketplace. I would expect to see services bundles from Apple this fall since Apple has said services is where it sees the most growth potential. Bundling services will exacerbate this narrative.

    As for right to repair. This one is bigger than Apple (see John Deere) but Apple is certainly going all in. Anything from Apple I've had to repair has been too old to cause a problem but things like the T2 chip making certain components only replaceable by Apple is disconcerting. And not even just, "You warranty will be void," but you computer won't work. I'm cool with Apple not necessarily helping me repair but I'm not expected them to actively get in the way. This definitely needs a bigger discussion. At this point, without more understanding, I wouldn't buy a mac with a T2 chip.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    Go after Google, FB and Twitter, leave Apple alone.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    Go after Google, FB and Twitter, leave Apple alone.
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