The Biden administration inherits a number of lawsuits aimed at breaking down major technology monopolies in the United States. It’s a cause most Americans support, according to a new survey by Vox and Data for Progress.
Some 59% of those polled for the online poll said they were in favor of breaking up big tech monopolies, including 24% who said they strongly supported it. Efforts to curb tech monopolies could include canceling Facebook by acquiring Instagram or preventing Amazon from being both an online marketplace and a seller in that market.
An even higher percentage – nearly two-thirds – of Americans see the economic strength of these tech companies as a problem facing the U.S. economy. The Vox and Data for Progress poll was conducted in January among 1,164 likely American voters.
Strikingly, feelings about Big Tech and antitrust are generally consistent among Democrats and Republicans, although Republicans were more likely to say it was a problem and should be dismantled. This reflects the rare bipartisan support antitrust cases have seen from lawmakers. (The new data was consistent with a similar Vox and Data for Progress survey conducted in 2019.)
The reasons Democrats and Republicans believe tech companies hold too much power vary, however.
To witness it: Another poll question found that while 87% of Democrats Twitter endorsed the decision to permanently suspend President Donald Trump following the Capitol Riot, only 28% of Republicans approved; 67% of Republicans did not approve of the decision. The large difference in responses indicates divergent reviews of tech companies between the two sides. Those on the right blasted Big Tech perceived censorship, while those on the left accused companies like Facebook and Google to fuel extremism online.
Either way, supporting antitrust action is one reason the government, after two decades of leniency, has filed a total of five antitrust lawsuits against Big. Tech at the end of last year. In December, the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 48 states and territories filed two lawsuits against Facebook alleging he was illegally maintaining his monopoly on social media through acquisitions of rival companies, including Instagram and WhatsApp. Google is facing three antitrust lawsuits on behalf of nearly every state and the Department of Justice: two relating to its search engine and search ad business, and one relating to its ad technology business. All three cases accuse the search engine giant of illegally maintaining its monopolies.
In October, Congress released a 400-page report that said Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon have all engaged in anti-competitive behavior. It is therefore possible that Apple and Amazon may also face antitrust lawsuits in the future.
Existing cases will likely be combined into fewer lawsuits, the results of which could take years. They will also depend, in part, on the appointments President Biden makes to government agencies responsible for overseeing antitrust matters: the FTC and the Department of Justice.
Jason Del Rey of Recode reported last week that Lina Khan, who served as legal counsel in the House antitrust investigation and is seen as an enemy of Big Tech, is one of the top candidates for a commissioner position at the FTC. Justice Department leadership could be more pro Big Tech. the American Prospect and the interception reported that the top two candidates to head its antitrust division, Renata Hesse and Juan Arteaga, had previously advised major tech companies.
Whoever ends up running these agencies …
- According to the source Antitrust action against Google and Facebook is popular with most Americans
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