House antitrust report on Apple et al. due next week

From Bloomberg’s “House Antitrust Chair Says Big Tech Abuses Gatekeeper Power” updated Friday:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. abuse their power as gatekeepers of the internet, said the head of a House antitrust panel who’s poised to propose legislative changes to rein in the technology giants.

“Each platform uses their gatekeeper position to protect their own power,” said Representative David Cicilline, who chairs a House antitrust panel that’s spent more than a year probing the dominance of the internet platforms. “By controlling the infrastructure of the digital age, they have surveilled other businesses to identify potential rivals — and ultimately bought out, copied, or cut off their competitive threats.”

Cicilline, who spoke Thursday during a hearing with experts on competition law, is preparing a final report recommending changes to the legislative and regulatory framework. That report is expected to be released next week.

Among the recommendations that Cicilline has floated is a prohibition against running a platform and competing on it at the same time. That would potentially bar Google from bidding in the online ad exchanges it operates or stop Amazon from providing a marketplace for independent merchants while selling its own products.

My take: It could also potentially bar Apple from disadvantaging apps that compete with its own on the App Store.

8 Comments

  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    “…. Among the recommendations that Cicilline has floated is a prohibition against running a platform and competing on it at the same time.” PED’s take: It could also potentially bar Apple from “disadvantaging apps” (emphasis added) that compete with its own on the App Store.

    Could Apple even compete? That is the way I read the sentence.

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    October 2, 2020
  2. Fred Stein said:
    How does Cicilline plan to set boundaries?

    Will the regulation only apply to digital platforms? Supermarket and drug store chains carry house brands. Would this apply to their on-line sales? All sports and entertain venues strictly control merch, food and bev sales.

    Would he bar Apple from offering, even for free, any App if there was a competing App? Who will surveil 1.7M Apps?

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    October 2, 2020
    • Jerry Doyle said:
      @Fred Stein: Interestingly, an incident happened to me while grocery shopping last evening that is related highly to your example.

      While in Albertsons I wanted two “Orville Redenbacher’s” popcorn containers, one with white corn and the other with yellow corn. There on the shelf I spied my two grocery items, each in plastic 30 oz. containers shaped exactly the same, looking almost exactly alike with red labels and contiguous with one another on the display shelf. I hurriedly grab both (one saying white corn and the other saying yellow corn) without scrutinizing each container. When I got home and was examining my grocery bill I spied payment for two popcorn items, one of Orville Redenbacker and the other “Signature Collect,” Albertsons’ store branded grocery items. The two grocery items were displayed on the same shelf, in exactly the same container configuration and size, positioned side-by-side with red labels resulting in my choosing one inadvertently of which I did not desire. Talk about a need for the House Antitrust Chair to see readily grocery store abuse through Gatekeeper Power on display, well, I experienced it last evening.

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      October 2, 2020
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    Cicilline is a grandstanding idiot. He isn’t legislating, he’s posturing.

    2
    October 2, 2020
  4. Steven Philips said:
    That’s what politicians DO!
    Would that somehow both political parties could be submitted to this same scrutiny – and punishment.
    Talk about “abusing gatekeeper power.”

    1
    October 2, 2020

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