US Reps Ask Big Tech Companies for Docs to Shed Light on Market Dominance

The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is seeking documents from Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook in its investigation of Big Tech’s market dominance. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook were asked by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Friday to fork over documents that could aid the politicians in their investigation of Big Tech’s market dominance. 

The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee sent request-for-information letters to the four companies – the letter to Google was sent to its parent company, Alphabet – and set a deadline to respond by Oct. 14. Members of both the Democratic and Republican Parties are spearheading the effort, including Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Doug Collins, R-Ga., David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner.

“We made it clear when we launched this bipartisan investigation that we plan to get all the facts we need to diagnose the problems in the digital marketplace. Today’s document requests are an important milestone in this investigation as we work to obtain the information that our Members need to make this determination,” Cicilline said in a statement. “We expect stakeholders to use this opportunity to provide information to the Committee to ensure that the Internet is an engine for opportunity for everyone, not just a select few gatekeepers.” 

Spokespeople for the four companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

The letters sent Friday requested documents that will give the legislators more insight into the companies’ internal operations. 

The letter to Alphabet requests the company’s search algorithm and internal documents, including executive emails relating to Google’s assets, which include former competitors DoubleClick, YouTube, and Android.

The subcommittee asked Amazon to provide documentation concerning how its products are ranked against third party products and its takeover of the retail book sales market, and it asked Apple for documentation on its regulation of parental control and third-party apps and its decision not to allow any app stores but its own to be installed on its devices.

The letter to Facebook requests documentation on the company’s acquisition of former competitors Instagram and WhatsApp and its shuttered data collection app, Onavo. 

In a statement Friday, Representative Sensenbrenner said the committee’s request for documents is part of the “fact-finding stage” of its investigation.

“This committee is charged with evaluating the effectiveness of our current antitrust laws,” Sensenbrenner said.

Currently, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are investigating the companies for stifling competition and Google and Facebook are facing antitrust suits from both Republican and Democratic state attorneys general.

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