US lawmakers detail Big Tech’s market abuses and press for strict reform

A US House of Representatives panel looking into abuses of market power by four big technology companies found they used “killer acquisitions” to smite rivals, charged exorbitant fees, and forced small businesses into “oppressive” contracts in the name of profit.

The antitrust subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee recommended that Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc., Amazon.com, and Facebook—with a combined market value of over $5 trillion—should not both control and compete in related businesses.

The panel’s report broadly recommended structural separations but stopped short of saying a specific company should be broken up.

The scathing 449-page report—the result of the first such congressional review of the tech industry—suggested expansive changes to antitrust law and described dozens of instances where the companies misused their power.

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.

In anticipation of the report, Amazon warned in a blog post Tuesday against “fringe notions of antitrust” and market interventions that “would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices and reducing consumer choice.”

Google said in a statement that it competes “fairly in a fast-moving and highly competitive industry. We disagree with today’s reports, which feature outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial rivals about Search and other services.”