The U.S. Department of Justice announced an anti-monopoly investigation on a number of large Internet technology companies on 23, but did not list specific targets for investigation.
The move highlights the fact that President Donald Trumps government is stepping up its scrutiny of such businesses. Trump has frequently criticized Facebook and Google in recent months for being biased against him and Republican politicians.
Parliamentarians from both parties in Congress have called for greater regulation or dismantling of Internet technology companies suspected of leaking usersprivacy.
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In a statement, the Ministry of Justice said it would investigate whether and how market-dominant Internet platforms can gain market power to engage in activities that reduce competition, curb innovation and harm consumersinterests.
The Ministry of Justice did not specify the specific companies included in the survey, saying only that it would take into account the widespread concern of the outside world about search, social media and some Internet retail service providers.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the investigation will be objective and fair; the anti-monopoly agencies under their jurisdiction are collecting information from the public, including those in the Internet industry.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice declined to provide a list of the companies involved in the investigation.
Many media interpretations show that the survey clearly points to Google, Facebook, Amazon, the Internet retail giant, and possibly Apple. Senior executives of the four companies attended a congressional hearing last week to clarify their suspicions of seeking industrial monopoly.
The Associated Press reported that the Ministry of Justice launched an anti-monopoly investigation closely related to the investigation of Internet technology enterprises by the anti-monopoly panel of the Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives.
Four Internet companies investigated by the Antitrust Group of the House of Representatives refused to respond to the investigation launched by the Ministry of Justice.
Amazon and Facebook were silent. When the media asked for a response, Google suggested referring to the testimony previously given to the House Antitrust Panel by Adam Cohen, director of economic policy at the company; Apple said CEO Tim Cook had already given it.
Cohen reiterated to the antitrust panel last week that Google benefits consumers; Cook told CBS in June that no reasonable person would conclude that Apple is a monopoly.
David Ceciland, chairman of the House Antitrust Group and a Democratic Congressman, said that venture capitalists and start-ups have come to a consensus that Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have designated shooting zones to prevent start-ups with innovative products and services from entering the market and posing challenges to existing businesses.
Makan Dellassim, the chief anti-monopoly official of the Ministry of Justice, said Wednesday that there was no substantive competition. Digital enterprises may not act in response to consumer demand.
Share prices of Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Googles alphabet companies fell slightly in after-hours trading on the 23rd.
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Trump has long been poised to launch unprecedented surveys of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to determine whether the top companies in global market value abuse market power, Reuters reported.
Members of the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress worry about the size and market power of Internet technology companies. Republican Senator Martha Blackburn praised the Justice Department for launching an antitrust investigation, saying a Senate working group led by her would study how to strengthen free markets and competition.
Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic Senator intending to compete for the next president, has called for the dismantling of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook and the cancellation of their previous mergers and acquisitions.
The chairman of the House Antitrust Group, West Zealand, once criticized Internet technology companies, arguing that legislative or regulatory reforms were necessary. According to him, splitting up businesses is the last resort.
Some analysts believe that the Ministry of Justices anti-monopoly investigation may prompt Internet technology companies to fine-tune their business models or face fines, but it will not lead to corporate dismantlement.
Dan Ives, an analyst at Wade Bush Securities, said the Justice Departments battle against Internet technology companies was bluff. In a research note, he wrote that current U.S. antitrust laws do not allow mandatory fragmentation based solely on business size and if so, Wal-Mart [the largest retail chain in the United States] disintegrated decades ago. (Chen Dan) (Special Release of Xinhua News Agency)
Source: Xinhua responsible editor: Wang Fengzhi_NT2541