Are giants of social networks, search engines and e-commerce becoming too powerful? Washington officially launched a large-scale investigation Tuesday to find out.
The giants of Silicon Valley, who are already blacklisted on privacy and personal data issues, are increasingly blamed for becoming almost monopolistic, to the detriment of their users.
The Ministry of Justice does not designate the companies to which its procedure relates, but it appears that targeted companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or Amazon dominate their markets.
Although it sells mostly iPhone and other electronic devices, Apple can also fire in the extent to which the group manages the App Store.
The authorities want to determine how these companies have become so inevitable in their markets and whether they have resorted to practices that "have reduced competition, prevented innovation or affected consumers."
US electoral officials and regulators have been struggling against the giant technology for months.
For example, Google is regularly suspected of giving priority to its own services to the detriment of its competitors in search engine results.
In June, the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives launched a survey on "competition in the digital market", stating that "a small number of dominant and unregulated platforms" have extraordinary power in commerce, communications and online information. "The agency responsible for protection consumers (FTC), also performs investigations.
– Internet users' fears –
The authorities said in the statement that they "take into account the widespread fears of consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs" who "expressed concern about research services, social networks and online trading platforms".
"Without the discipline of meaningful competition, digital platforms can use ways that do not meet consumer demands," commented Makan Delrahim, an antitrust official at the US Department of Justice.
The US authorities are not the only ones who blame their practices with Internet behemoths.
The European Commission has been accused of violating competition rules and has already introduced three large fines for Google's parent company, and last week announced the launch of a "thorough investigation" on Amazon, suspected of using the data of independent vendors who use their site in your benefit.
The US regulatory authorities have not only the right to impose penalties imposed on non-compliance with competition rules, but also to order "structural" measures to ensure greater competition in the market, including cleavages.
However, analyst at Wedbush Securities Dan Ives says such a sentence seems unlikely.
"This titanic battle between Washington and technology giants creates more noise than the bad" for the sector and "it's likely to cause some changes to the economic model and not to the forced disintegration of activities," he said. in the commentary.
"I do not believe that the United States is seriously inclined to dismantle these companies because they are even more afraid that Chinese companies will become even bigger," said Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy. .
Apple and Twitter did not want to comment.
Prior to this, Google earlier this week referred to the hearing of the Director of Economic Policy before the Congress, Adam Cohen. He was convinced that the search engine "helped lower prices and increase choice for consumers and traders in the United States and around the world."
In any case, the companies concerned will be able to respond to these accusations when publishing their quarterly results, Wednesday for Facebook, and Thursday for the Amazon and the Abeceda.