Bradley partner Chad Elder was quoted in Law360 on the Big Tech companies that are still fending off attacks from lawmakers about their market dominance. The House Judiciary subcommittee recently held its sixth hearing examining the power of digital platforms Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Although lawmakers hinted at novel enforcement actions or legislation that could eventually target the industry, experts say immediate change appears unlikely.
That's partly because companies like Amazon and Facebook are so popular among their users, said Elder.
Although there is bipartisan support to clamp down on the sector, Elder said the looming election could make it difficult to reach a consensus.
"On some level, the hearings may amount to nothing more than political venting, a shot across the bow of Big Tech firms that they are being scrutinized more closely than they previously realized," Elder said.
Lawmakers also questioned Facebook and Amazon about past transactions in which the companies may have engaged in predatory pricing and then bought out their competitors. Elder noted that "pricing below cost to drive out a competitor or force it to merge are already clearly covered by existing antitrust law," meaning the DOJ already has the tools it needs to go after that type of conduct.
Elder said it's unlikely Amazon would be forced to sell off its private-label business, but that Congress could pass legislation to impose regulations on the company's business practices. This could, for example, provide some separation between the retail and marketplace businesses.
The original article, "Bipartisan Big Tech Antitrust Efforts Still Facing Headwinds," appeared in Law360 on August 3, 2020. (Login required.)