Several state attorneys general are pursuing a joint antitrust probe of major technology companies, according to sources of The Wall Street Journal. It could begin as early as next month and Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost may be among them.
In June, The Cleveland Plain Dealer confirmed with spokesman Dave O’Neil that Yost is one of perhaps 12 to 20 attorneys general who have been discussing their concerns about possible antitrust issues with big technology corporations such as Facebook and Google.
Antitrust laws were created to protect competition in the marketplace and avoid practices such as price-fixing and monopolies.
Big tech is being investigated on multiple fronts concerning possible antitrust violations. The U.S. Justice Department announced its review of “market leading online platforms” in late July. In a press release, the Justice Department stated:
The Department of Justice announced today that the Department’s Antitrust Division is reviewing whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.
The Department’s review will consider the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online. The Department’s Antitrust Division is conferring with and seeking information from the public, including industry participants who have direct insight into competition in online platforms, as well as others.”
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division said in the release, “Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands. The Department’s antitrust review will explore these important issues.”
Added to the mix is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which explained in late July its $5 billion fine against Facebook as part of a settlement with the social media giant. Now the FTC is investigating possible antitrust violations by Facebook over the company’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.
The states’ involvement will add another significant level of examination of Big Tech. Yost issued a statement in June about the potential antitrust suit.
“Big data creates new problems for a free society. We are gathering information, and all our options are on the table,” he said.
The Ohio Star reached out to Yost and asked if he could confirm Ohio’s involvement or provide any additional information. Yost wrote back that he can’t comment at this time.
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