Skip to main content

Leading Dem says Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have ‘monopoly power’

Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have “monopoly power” — and must be either regulated or broken up, according to a leading House Democrat.

In Wednesday’s Big Tech antitrust hearing, the focus throughout its five-hour run time was largely on anything else other than the topic at hand.

Questions thrown at the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook were all over the map — ranging from conservative censorship, cancel culture, China, and conspiracy theories. However, leading Democrat of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said lawmakers who focused on how these companies used their power to stifle competition proved the companies are being anti-competitive.

“Today we had the opportunity to hear from the decision-makers of four of the most powerful companies in the world,” Cicilline said. “This hearing has made one fact clear to me: These companies as they exist today have monopoly power. Some need to be broken up. This must end.”

Cicilline is referring to a handful of anecdotes heard during each testimony: Amazon reportedly suppressed similar products on its marketplace and undercuts competitors to maintain its 40% market share of the e-commerce industry; Google routinely guides consumers to Google products when using its search function; Facebook’s approach to acquisitions has been called “dangerous” and predatory in its quest to remain the top social networking site; and Apple’s control and regulation over its App Store can harm other startups from succeeding.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai, Apple’s Tim Cook, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos all said that their companies do not harm competition, and some even suggested that there were bigger threats to small businesses out there than themselves.

Yet breaking Big Tech up will be hard to do, and if lawmakers intend to go down that road, it is guaranteed to take a very long time. Despite how bipartisan Wednesday’s hearing was in nature, working across the aisle on the issue of Big Tech has bureaucratic roadblocks.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Subcommittee on Antitrust is set to publish its findings from its investigation soon. In that report, members of the committee will recommend several actions lawmakers can take as they see fit. They may propose laws and regulations or a continued investigation. We don’t yet know.

When Sen. Elizabeth Warren was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, she made breaking up Big Tech a talking point and proposed that Big Tech be dismantled so that the companies are not both the owner of a platform that allows users to find things and the things themselves — just like regulators already monitor Wall Street and Telecomm to ensure a level playing field.

But unfortunately for lawmakers looking to take a hard stance on Big Tech, a blanket regulation for the tech industry may not apply to each and every one of the companies represented in Wednesday’s hearing because they all have different business models. Hitting Google with a fine for directing a user to its product is much different than Facebook buying a rival product with a popular feature to stop competition.

Meira Gebel
Meira Gebel is a freelance reporter based in Portland. She writes about tech, social media, and internet culture for Digital…
Why Nvidia is about to get a huge edge over AMD
The Nvidia RTX 4080 Super on a pink background.

Micron has shared some performance figures for its next-gen graphics memory, and if these numbers turn out to be true, it could mean great things for upcoming graphics cards.

The company claims that its GDDR7 VRAM will offer up to 30% performance improvement in gaming scenarios, and this reportedly applies both to games that rely heavily on ray tracing and on pure rasterization. Will Nvidia's RTX 50-series, which is said to be using GDDR7 memory, turn out to be a bigger upgrade than expected?

Read more
AAA game downloads in 2 milliseconds? It’s possible
A Wi-Fi router with an ethernet cable plugged in.

Internet speeds have come a long way since the glory days of 56kbps dial-up connection. However, even if you're now the happy owner of a speedy broadband connection, it still has nothing on the record that engineers from Japan were able to achieve. Using standard fiber optic cables, they claim to have set up a connection that hit a data transmission rate of 402Tbps -- yes, that's terabytes per second.

This incredible record was achieved by a team of engineers from Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), and they described it in an in-depth paper. While reading the paper would certainly be easier for those of us who may have a Ph.D. in network engineering, the tech used to achieve that 402Tbps milestone is advanced, but based on established principles. The team utilized 50 kilometers (a bit over 30 miles) of fiber optic cabling. They also employed lots of transmission bands, signal amplifiers, and gain equalizers to maintain signal integrity.

Read more