US House approves report accusing Big Tech of monopolistic behavior

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The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has formally approved its report that accuses Big Tech companies of engaging in anticompetitive practices to maintain market power.

Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Credit: WikiMedia Commons


After a monthslong investigation into market power in the technology industry, the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee released its report in October 2020. The report called the power of Big Tech "monopolistic" and recommended sweeping changes.

On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 24-17 along party lines to formally approve the report, according to Reuters. As a result, the more than 400 pages will become an official committee report and a blueprint for legislative action.

"Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook each hold monopoly power over significant sectors of our economy. This monopoly moment must end," Rep. David Cicilline, the committee's chair, said in a statement. "Now that the Judiciary Committee has formally adopted our findings, I look forward to crafting legislation that addresses the significant concerns we have raised."

The committee is currently considering regulations and changes that could rein in the power of large technology companies. The first such bill has already been introduced. In March, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would make it easier for news outlets to negotiate collectively with tech platforms.

Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies.

In addition to the House report, the U.S. Senate has also been pushing toward antitrust reform. In March, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she planned to hold hearings on the App Store and other potential areas of reform.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 826member
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    edited April 15 mike1
  • Reply 2 of 23
    mknelson said:
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    I don’t understand what “barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete” even means.
    mike1sdw2001watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 23
    mknelson said:
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    Agreed…”barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete” doesn’t make sense:

    Apple competes to sell phones, so they’re not allowed to sell phones?

    Or are you trying to suggest something like they’re not allowed to have a Podcasts app because there are other companies that sell their podcast apps on Apple’s App Store?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 23
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    I feel like lawmakers need to do a bit of soul searching here, because the worst offenders got there by lobbying. Which will still be an issue when any new legislation is introduced. Sometimes these efforts just become opportunities to legally entrench the problem they were aiming to resolve. Government involvement can lead to harm in competition: we all saw how iBooks went down, giving Amazon more power and an even more damaging position, against what was a very mild offering from Apple.

    And not to strike a tone in the image of 'whataboutism', but in the grand scheme of things that are harming Americans (and there's plenty) - these actions are so disproportionate with other forms of harm. Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?
    hodarzimmiepujones1FileMakerFellerDogpersonbestkeptsecretjasonfont426watto_cobrajony0beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 5 of 23
    “And not to strike a tone in the image of 'whataboutism', but in the grand scheme of things that are harming Americans (and there's plenty) - these actions are so disproportionate with other forms of harm. Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?”

    Nailed it….
    Dogpersonjasonfont426watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 23
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,644member
    So, they go after tech but not after criminal banks and hedge funds. What about the oil cartel and price fixing by gasoline stations? Is Walmart a monopoly? What about the legal bribery in Congress called lobbying? Is Congress including Samsung as a monopoly?

    There are so many ways to try and destroy those companies who actually make products people want to buy yet we can't get Congress to enact laws to protect people of color, reasonably priced prescriptions and medical care, or a way to lower all the money being given to the military complex. Why don't we start with these first.
    muthuk_vanalingamFileMakerFellerDogpersonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 23
    mknelson said:
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    This might relate to service bundles as it becomes increasingly difficult for a company offering just one of the services included in those bundles to compete with Apple on a standalone basis.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 552member
    mknelson said:
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    My reading is it's more about selling to a captive audience. They don't want companies to own the only store a device is allowed to use and to sell things on that store, competing with others. The idea is that the companies could offer their own products favorable conditions. After all, who is going to sell a spreadsheet when they have to compete with Numbers which is first-party and free? And even if somebody does, what's to stop Apple from artificially lowering its search rankings?

    I can kind of see that argument, but only if applied consistently. Cable companies do far, far worse. If this same argument is used to say you can't both own transmission lines and sell stuff over those lines, that would definitely be a win.

    I see it falling down in that a lot of things which came with the OS originally have now been carved into separate free applications. A phone vendor should include some software with the price of purchase. Where the line is between what should be included to make the phone useful out of the box and what the manufacturer should not even be allowed to make to preserve a market for other companies? The US federal government hasn't ever been overly concerned with the practical implications of its decisions, though.
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 9 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,671member
    mknelson said:
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    I don’t understand what “barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete” even means.
    You're not alone.  I don't know what that means either, though I infer it means a company like Apple being barred from selling its own apps?  Or favoring them?  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,671member

    zimmie said:
    mknelson said:
    "Some of the proposals in the House's report include aggressive measures like barring companies from operating in markets in which they compete. It also includes tamer ideas like increasing the budgets and powers of market regulators and antitrust agencies."

    So, that would bar Apple retail?
    My reading is it's more about selling to a captive audience. They don't want companies to own the only store a device is allowed to use and to sell things on that store, competing with others. The idea is that the companies could offer their own products favorable conditions. After all, who is going to sell a spreadsheet when they have to compete with Numbers which is first-party and free? And even if somebody does, what's to stop Apple from artificially lowering its search rankings?

    I can kind of see that argument, but only if applied consistently. Cable companies do far, far worse. If this same argument is used to say you can't both own transmission lines and sell stuff over those lines, that would definitely be a win.

    I see it falling down in that a lot of things which came with the OS originally have now been carved into separate free applications. A phone vendor should include some software with the price of purchase. Where the line is between what should be included to make the phone useful out of the box and what the manufacturer should not even be allowed to make to preserve a market for other companies? The US federal government hasn't ever been overly concerned with the practical implications of its decisions, though.
    I think that's probably right, but I also don't think barring them from selling apps themselves is a good idea, nor a reasonable one.  I can see regulation on allowing fair competition within the platform.  The same applies to the other tech companies in different ways.  Google and Amazon prioritize their "stuff" over competitors that really must use their dominant platforms.  I don't know that the solution is to tell Amazon they can't sell Amazon Basics brand stuff.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 23
    Ow the Irony, if Apple ever needs to open up the Appstore, you know who will win, Google and Facebook as they are true monopolies in their markets, which they can abuse to push out Apple in the App market ...
    so actually the biggest winners in this so called monopoly wars will be the biggest monopolies (as there are no competitors to FB or GOOG, hey not even MS is able to bring Bing to the table) 
    talking about Irony ... 

    Dogpersonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 12 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,456member
    I still don’t get why Apple is a monopoly. The politicians. i.e Democrats are going to screw up the tech market to the point where user won’t know where to go to get anything.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,671member
    I already weighed on the "barring companies from participating in markets" thing and why I don't think that's necessarily a good thing or reasonable.   But on the larger issue, I'm not hopeful of any meaningful change that avoids making things worse.   This is Congress we're talking about.  By and large, they are either 1) totally clueless about the entire issue and the technology itself or 2) supported and in bed with these very companies because they have shared ideology and partisan goals.   I do think there are some members of the GOP that get it, but they haven't shown the ability to get anything done, and can't now because Dems control both houses and the presidency.  

    I see two major issues that need to be addressed.  First, these companies are clearly using their monopolies or dominant positions to harm their direct competition.  They must be prevented from both competing in a space and regulating that space to the determent of their competition.  This means they can't favor their own products over their competitors, especially in deceptive ways.   They should have to disclose paid promotions clearly.  That means Amazon would have to disclose a sponsorship if they, say, accepted payment to promote something as "Amazon's choice."   It also means Apple can't downgrade search results for apps that compete with theirs (ditto on Google), etc.  It's my view that whenever it comes to financial interests (especially in politics), full disclosure is better than just having "rules."  Look at campaign finance laws.  They don't exactly work like a dream.   Of course, there would have to be serious anti-trust penalties imposed if these companies demonstrably harmed competition in their marketplaces.  

    The second issue is censorship.  Repealing section 230 will be a mess.  It will basically shut down all comment sections on the internet, including this one.  Censorship will grow far, far worse than it is now.  To address this, I'd much rather see a more targeted approach.   I think companies over a certain size should be explicit prevented from engaging in ideological discrimination.  They should be declared part of the new public square, and required to operate 1st Amendment-friendly platforms.  Yes, they are private companies.  But their size and positions have changed the game.  These large companies should fall under a regulatory agency, perhaps the FCC.  They would investigate and resolve complaints of bias, issue penalties, etc.  They would be required to apply their moderation policies consistently and on a much tighter standard than the "otherwise objectionable" one found in 230.  Alternately or additionally, Congress could make it easier for private citizens to sue these companies for fraud and breach of contract.  Twitter and Facebook are the worse offenders in those terms, I think.   

    I again have few hopes of any of that happening.   


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 23
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 222member
    rob53 said:
    So, they go after tech but not after criminal banks and hedge funds. What about the oil cartel and price fixing by gasoline stations? Is Walmart a monopoly? What about the legal bribery in Congress called lobbying? Is Congress including Samsung as a monopoly?

    There are so many ways to try and destroy those companies who actually make products people want to buy yet we can't get Congress to enact laws to protect people of color, reasonably priced prescriptions and medical care, or a way to lower all the money being given to the military complex. Why don't we start with these first.
    I was onboard with you until you got to lowering funding for the military complex. The military complex is what’s maintaining your freedom right now. We have to keep investing in the military to ensure that we are prepared for the next conflict. You think Russia and China are reducing military spending? Russia is on the comeback trail and China is rising and colonizing. Why do you think we have so many assets in the Pacific now? China is almost a peer. You don’t wait until you find yourself in a fight to prepare for it. The military has made great strides in lowering costs but you have pay your personnel, train them and then provide them with the tools to fight and win. 

    I don’t get how Apple is a monopoly though. I think that these legislators are so clueless about technology. They have more important things to as you said. 
    edited April 15 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 23
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
     Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?

    None fo these things you have listed are real problems.    Healthcare, Student loans for example are mostly of interest to people to lazy to work for a living.   The imagined gun problem is more about the lack of effective police violence against the people that can't become viable members of society.   In other words we really need a death penalty in the USA that addresses people that don't want to work within the system.   Civil unrest is due mostly to people that don't want to work within the system.  

    So Yeah your attempt to draw attention away form a real issue, the harm big companies are doing ot the average American with scam issues is simply not valid.   These monopolies are harming far more people than anything  your listed.
    lkrupp
  • Reply 16 of 23
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 626member
    Our military funding? We spend more than the next 27 countries on the planet. Combined. At some point there’s waste fraud and abuse more than security. 

    As to healthcare? We’ve currently lost 550,000 Americans to a severe respiratory pandemic we could have controlled. That’s necessary to fix. We lose further hundreds of thousands due to inadequate healthcare coverage (people without coverage delay care until it’s a crisis that’s either hugely more expensive to solve or fatal or both) and errors in hospital healthcare delivery. That also has to be corrected. 

    That Apple’s App Store is the sole legitimate route to buy apps for phones they manufacture and sell ? Has. Killed. No one. 
    edited April 15 jasonfont426zimmiewatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 17 of 23
    wizard69 said:
     Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?

    None fo these things you have listed are real problems.    Healthcare, Student loans for example are mostly of interest to people to lazy to work for a living.   The imagined gun problem is more about the lack of effective police violence against the people that can't become viable members of society.   In other words we really need a death penalty in the USA that addresses people that don't want to work within the system.   Civil unrest is due mostly to people that don't want to work within the system.  

    So Yeah your attempt to draw attention away form a real issue, the harm big companies are doing ot the average American with scam issues is simply not valid.   These monopolies are harming far more people than anything  your listed.
    If employers are now requiring a much higher educational certification for a given position (and, as a whole, they are - the push towards an "information economy" is well under way), then the cost of education is a real problem for the vast majority of a nation's citizens.

    If health costs are much higher than in comparable nations, then it is a real problem for the vast majority of a nation's citizens.

    If lethal violence is much higher than in comparable nations, it is a real problem for the vast majority of a nation's citizens.

    If civil unrest reaches the level of a physical attack on a national government building and thus the national government body, and this gets broadcast across the world, it is a real problem for the vast majority of a nation's citizens.

    If multinational corporations enact policies that restrict the freedom, reduce the privacy and raise the financial costs for people around the world, yes, it is a real problem for the vast majority of a nation's citizens and for the world's population.

    You're entitled to your opinion about how to prioritise solving the listed problems. So is the original poster, so am I. And you're right that far more people are being affected by the big tech companies' behaviour, but I would argue that the scale of the harm is much lower per capita than for the other social problems listed.

    One of the things guaranteed by the US Constitution is the pursuit of happiness. We know that feelings of happiness are most likely to arise when individuals feel in control of their circumstances. From the outside, it looks to me like the US population feels like everything is out of control but that just maybe the election of President Biden is the first step on the long journey back to some semblance of order. Part of that will include reining in the spread of disinformation, and part of it will entail fomenting perceptions of equality among its citizens, instilling a shared sense of purpose, of belonging, of feeling like a single nation rather than a country of "Americans" and "people who came here after we did." I don't think that denigrating other people's choices is a part of that journey - you'll be better served by doing the hard work of arriving at a mutually beneficial plan (which, by definition, means that each party to the agreement will end up with a sub-optimal result individually). Since you have a dim view of people who are too lazy to work, I'm confident that you'll step up to the challenge.
    muthuk_vanalingamEsquireCatsjasonfont426watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Whataboutism at it finest


    EsquireCats said:
    I feel like lawmakers need to do a bit of soul searching here, because the worst offenders got there by lobbying. Which will still be an issue when any new legislation is introduced. Sometimes these efforts just become opportunities to legally entrench the problem they were aiming to resolve. Government involvement can lead to harm in competition: we all saw how iBooks went down, giving Amazon more power and an even more damaging position, against what was a very mild offering from Apple.

    And not to strike a tone in the image of 'whataboutism', but in the grand scheme of things that are harming Americans (and there's plenty) - these actions are so disproportionate with other forms of harm. Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?

  • Reply 19 of 23
    wizard69 said:
     Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?

    None fo these things you have listed are real problems.    Healthcare, Student loans for example are mostly of interest to people to lazy to work for a living.   The imagined gun problem is more about the lack of effective police violence against the people that can't become viable members of society.   In other words we really need a death penalty in the USA that addresses people that don't want to work within the system.   Civil unrest is due mostly to people that don't want to work within the system.  

    So Yeah your attempt to draw attention away form a real issue, the harm big companies are doing ot the average American with scam issues is simply not valid.   These monopolies are harming far more people than anything  your listed.

    Your dismissal of the other issues seems pretty silly and pig-headed, but your "imagined" gun problem opinion is absolutely gobsmacking.

    Do you seriously think that a person on a shooting spree does not already have a death wish? Do you think the death penalty would be a successful deterrent against people like that?

    If you cannot see that the US has a serious gun-violence problem, then you are really too close to the problem. 


    muthuk_vanalingamEsquireCatsGeorgeBMacjasonfont426watto_cobraFileMakerFellerjony0Detnator
  • Reply 20 of 23
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    wizard69 said:
     Healthcare, student loans, lethal gun/police violence, disinformation and the resulting civil unrest...  so lawmakers give us... a review of Netflix?

    None fo these things you have listed are real problems.    Healthcare, Student loans for example are mostly of interest to people to lazy to work for a living.   The imagined gun problem is more about the lack of effective police violence against the people that can't become viable members of society.   In other words we really need a death penalty in the USA that addresses people that don't want to work within the system.   Civil unrest is due mostly to people that don't want to work within the system.  

    So Yeah your attempt to draw attention away form a real issue, the harm big companies are doing ot the average American with scam issues is simply not valid.   These monopolies are harming far more people than anything  your listed.
    Delusional. 
    jasonfont426watto_cobrajony0
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