Facebook, Google and other tech giants to face antitrust investigation by House lawmakers

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Democratic Reps plan a sweeping review of Facebook, Google and other technology giants to determine if they’ve become so large and powerful that they stifle competition and harm consumers, marking a new, unprecedented antitrust threat for an industry that’s increasingly under siege by Congress, the White House and 2020 presidential candidates. The probe, announced June 3 by House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-RI), is expected to be far-reaching and comes at a moment when Democrats and Republicans find themselves in rare alignment on the idea that the tech industry has been too unregulated for too long. The sentiment spurred a sharp sell-off in tech stocks to start the week.

Chairman Cicilline said the investigation won’t target one specific tech company, but rather focus on the broad belief that the “Internet is broken,” he said. In doing so, he pointed out problematic practices at tech giants such as Google, which has faced sanctions in Europe for prioritizing its services in search over rivals, and Facebook, which Chairman Cicilline criticized for cloning and acquiring competitors to ensure its continued dominance in social networking. Amazon and Apple also could figure into the committee’s early plans, he said, cautioning the goal is a broader look at the industry. Cicilline said Democrats would hold hearings, seek documents — even by subpoena, if necessary — and depose witnesses that could include the leaders of Silicon Valley’s largest companies, who might also be asked to testify publicly. His office said that tech companies, for all their innovations, had created “escalating crises,” from eroding Americans’ privacy rights to depriving ad revenue from cash-strapped local news outlets.

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