During the last couple of months, antitrust concerns over large companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook have reached new highs. Things have now reached a point where Congress has ordered Apple (and a few other firms) to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. This might be the start of official antitrust investigations.
According to The Washington Post, the House Judiciary Committee’s top antitrust panel has asked Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google to deliver testimonies to help determine the impact that their practices might have on competition.
Staff members of Rep. David Cicilline have confirmed the news. Apple will be represented by its VP for Corporate Law Kyle Andeer.
The hearing follows an investigation by federal regulators into possible anti-competitive actions by the country’s biggest technology firms. About a month ago, the Department of Justice’s Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said that they already have the necessary tools at their disposal to enforce antitrust legislation in cases that involve digital technologies. He added: “US antitrust law is flexible enough to be applied to markets old and new.”
Apple is, of course, currently embroiled in no less than three antitrust court cases: two in the US, and one in Europe. All three are related to its App Store. In the US, iPhone owners took Apple to court because they claim that App Store policies are artificially inflating app prices.
Apple denied this and claimed that if anybody suffered damages, it was developers. The US Supreme court found this argument unacceptable and allowed the case to go forward. Apple’s defence backfired so badly that a group of developers actually decided to take it to court based on its own argument.
In Europe, Spotify lodged a complaint with antitrust regulators – arguing that Apple Music benefitted unfairly over its own service because Apple takes a share of all in-app subscriptions and prohibits alternative sign-up links.