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Like Europe before it, the U.S. government looks ready to try reining in its technology giants. But doing so may be more difficult than it seems.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice opened a sweeping antitrust investigation of major technology companies and whether their online platforms have hurt competition, suppressed innovation or otherwise harmed consumers.
Probe - Account - Concerns - Media - Search
It said the probe will take into account "widespread concerns" about social media, search engines and online retail services.
"Without the discipline of meaningful market-based competition, digital platforms may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands," Makan Delrahim, the department's chief antitrust officer, said in a statement. "The Department's antitrust review will explore these important issues."
Terse - Announcement - Months - Concern - Congress
The terse but momentous announcement follows months of concern in Congress and elsewhere over the sway of firms like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Lawmakers and Democratic presidential candidates have called for stricter regulation or even breakups of the big tech companies , which have drawn intense scrutiny following scandals involving compromised user privacy, security lapses and misinformation and extremism that flourished on their platforms.
Facebook is awaiting a significant judgment from the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy practices, one that will reportedly include a $5 billion fine and impose other limits on its operations. The FTC also reportedly plans to hand Google a multimillion dollar fine over its handling of children's information on YouTube. Europe has investigated and fined a number of major U.S. tech companies over the past several years.
Nation - Law - Enforcement - Agencies - Threat
"It seems like the nation's law enforcement agencies are finally waking up to the threat posed by big tech," said Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has criticized Amazon for stifling independent businesses. Mitchell testified at a House hearing last week.
President Donald Trump also has repeatedly criticized the big tech companies by name in recent months....
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