UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Representatives of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon were summoned to Congress in connection with an antitrust investigation initiated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Ministry of Justice.
US lawmakers are confident that the giants of Silicon Valley have gained such power that they have literally enslaved the market, and urgently need to do something. What threatens the “big four” accusations of monopolism, and why the largest technology companies in the world may end up with nothing left in the RIA report.
– Captured all –
As part of the antitrust investigation, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Ministry of Justice have to figure out whether IT giants are abusing their dominant position.
Officials believe that these companies threaten the freedom of the market, impose unreasonably high prices on consumers, and also freely collect huge amounts of personal data using “free” services and applications.
“Google controls 94 percent of mobile search, Facebook, with 2.7 billion users, is the largest social network in the world,” said Congressman David Chichillini. Both companies are quite obvious monopolies, he said.
In fact, free applications are not free because they collect user data, violating privacy. And even worse, they use this data for unfair competition and elimination of rivals – smaller technology companies.
The fact that the business model of Google must be carefully checked, and I am sure Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. “They got too much power, which no one limits,” he said. And Democrat Richard Blumenthal called the leading players of Silicon Valley “predators” and demanded to apply anti-monopoly sanctions to them.
The Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives will hold a series of hearings on this issue. The first will take place on July 16, where representatives of the “big four” will try to convince lawmakers that their dominance does not harm the market, but promotes innovation.
– Billion Fines –
It is unlikely that their arguments will make an impression. In recent years, these companies have more than once become defendants in antitrust cases and paid huge fines.
For example, Google in 2013 was accused of copying in order to improve its own services, and also in the deliberately underestimated positions of competitors in search results. And when they complained, they were threatened to exclude them from the search. The decision of the Federal Trade Commission then surprised even her own experts – the investigation was stopped.
In 2016, the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service fined Google 438 million rubles for abusing the dominant position in the market of pre-installed Android app stores. The European Commission in 2017 – at 2.42 billion euros for abusing the dominant position in the market of Internet search systems, and in July last year – at a record 4.3 billion euros.
Claims to Facebook are no less serious. According to analysts, the social network receives personal data of users almost free of charge and, having accumulated their huge volume, dictates the prices to advertisers. As expected, the company will soon pay a $ 5 billion fine – for transferring the data to 90 million users of consulting company Cambridge Analytica, which was involved in the Donald Trump election campaign in 2016.
By the way, the President of the United States himself has also repeatedly offered to investigate the giants of Silicon Valley. He is particularly concerned about social platforms: he believes that Google and Facebook, and at the same time Twitter, are waging an undeclared war against members of the US Conservative Party, censoring their messages.
As for Apple, the problem is in the App Store. In March, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren expressed the opinion that the company does not have the right to support the company’s app store by hosting its own software. This violates the rights of third-party developers.
In June, they themselves filed a class action lawsuit against Tim Cook’s company. “Apple keeps 30 percent of sales revenue, prohibits setting a cost of less than $ 0.99 and requires that the price always ends at 0.99. Because of this, the App Store is full – there are over two million applications that no one sees”, – developers are indignant.
– Pulling the blanket over himself –
Although the “big four” are accused of the same thing – the abuse of a dominant position, we cannot speak about their solidarity. So, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently advised everyone to leave Facebook social network to keep data confidential. He has already deleted his account.
“Large technology companies, including Facebook, are invading privacy,” Wozniak is sure. “Who knows, maybe my phone is being listened to right now.” This is despite the fact that Yabloko itself is suspected of illegal tapping.
As shown last year’s investigation of the newspaper The New York Times, the interception was conducted through special applications, all distributed in the same App Store. They contained a special code called Alphonso, activated when you turn on any of the “apple” gadgets, the authors of the investigation claimed.
However, Tim Cook dismissed allegations of monopoly. “I don’t think that someone in their right mind can come to this conclusion. Our share is much more modest than critics claim. We do not have a dominant position in any market. I suppose the test initiated by Congress is fair. But we are not monopolists.” – he is sure.
– Crush into pieces –
In this situation, lawmakers are ready to take the most radical measures.
As Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the US presidency from the Democratic Party, the largest players in Silicon Valley “have gone through competition with a bulldozer, strangled innovations and introduced the rules of the game that harm the rest.” Therefore, it is also necessary to deal with them toughly – to split them into pieces.
According to Warren’s plan, companies whose annual revenues exceed $ 25 billion should be legally recognized as “platform utilities,” which would deprive them of the right to simultaneously own the platform and its participants.
They will not be able to redeem potential competitors and use a dominant position to move into other areas of business. It is also proposed to prohibit platform providers to transfer user data to third parties.
In addition, all recent acquisitions of giants should be considered illegal as anti-competitive mergers. In this case, Facebook will have to get rid of Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon – from Zappos and Whole Foods, Google will lose YouTube, and Apple will say goodbye to the App Store.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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