In the past week, Congressional committees and the Justice Department have all opened antitrust probes into some of the biggest tech companies in the US. That includes Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. But the four tech companies knew that this was going to happen one day, and have been preparing for this fight.
Executives were taking a "wait and see" approach to this in the US, and now that the probes have started, they are beginning to step up their lobbying efforts and hiring more lawyers to help fight off regulators.
When it comes to Google and its parent company, Alphabet, this isn't anything new. It has been facing antitrust probes and fines all around the world – specifically in the European Union lately, though. So that it does already have a playbook for dealing with the Justice Department. Though, according to Bloomberg, the DOJ has not yet spoken with Google, about what they are planning to focus on in this probe.
In recent weeks, the four companies have been doing a lot of finger-pointing, saying that their competitors are doing it and worse. Apple was the latest to do this. This is because Apple did have its WWDC just days after the announcement broke that the government was probing all four companies. Apple even put out a few graphics showing that it does have competitors in its own app store.
Trump has targeted many of these companies, while he has been in office. Going after Amazon, for supposedly exploiting the Post Office to get cheaper rates for shipping. He has also attacked Google for showing unfair coverage of him in Google News and search results. Facebook hasn't been hit too hard by Trump, but it has gotten its fair share of criticisim from Congressional leaders. Then there's Apple. Trump was good friends with Apple's CEO, Tim Cook. But since Cook refused to bring manufacturing back to the US (out of China), Trump is likely going to go after him and Apple as well.
These antitrust probes are ones that should have happened quite a while ago. And it doesn't help that you have a number of Democratic Presidential candidates that are calling for breaking up big tech. With the leader of that group being Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Breaking up big tech is actually a good idea. Companies like Amazon and Alphabet specifically, have their hands in a ton of areas. And it's clear that there is definitely some antitrust going on there. But it's also the case for Facebook and Apple, but to a lesser extent.
It's unlikely that these antitrust probes will be done before the 2020 Presidential election, but it wouldn't be unheard of for this to be a big topic at campaign stops and in the upcoming debates for the primary and the general election. But since this is a bipartisan issue, both sides will likely agree on whatever does happen with these probes. It's going to be an interesting year, leading up to the election next November.