Hill Gets Pre-Pushback on Big Tech Antitrust Hearing

Some limited government groups didn't wait for Tuesday's House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing with edge giants to argue against trying to break them up or put a governor on their engines of commerce and productivity. 

That came in e-mailed statements before the 2 p.m. hearing, "Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 2: Innovation and Entrepreneurship," where representatives from Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon were scheduled to testify.

“Today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust hearing won’t have much, if anything, to do with actual antitrust concerns," said Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) research fellow Patrick Hedger. "Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and other major online platforms are all vigorous competitors in a number of areas. The tech industry is marked by strong competition in terms of both quantity and quality, which benefits consumers in ways they could not have even imagined just 10 years ago and shows how quickly these markets can change."

Legislators on both sides of the aisle have said Big Tech needs shaking up, and in some cases breaking up, given its market cap and power over an increasingly internet of everything world. That was one of the drivers behind the hearing Tuesday as the Hill considers how such companies should be treated in terms of antitrust given that they had arguably bought their way to dominance by gobbling up competitors before those were large enough for such deals to raise antitrust red flags. 

But Americans for Prosperity raised a flag of its own.  

“Congress has a legitimate role in overseeing antitrust enforcement, but today’s hearing appears to be another opportunity to politicize a process that should be left to the appropriate enforcement agencies," said senior tech policy analyst, Billy Easley. "Many of the lawmakers involved in the hearing have made it clear they want to break up these companies, so it’s not much of an investigation if their minds are already made up. We agree with Senator Lee’s argument that antitrust is a highly technical inquiry and not something that lends itself to blanket condemnations of an industry.” 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.