How Big Tech firms are faring against US lawsuits and probes

Big Tech platforms have been hit with a series of antitrust lawsuits by the United States federal government.
Big Tech platforms have been hit with a series of antitrust lawsuits by the United States federal government.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Big Tech platforms Facebook and Google have been hit with a series of antitrust lawsuits by the United States federal government and states on charges they are operating monopolies and abusing their power.

Below is the status of the cases, as well as government probes of Apple and Amazon.com

Two lawsuits against Facebook

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a new complaint against Facebook in the middle of this month, adding more detail on the accusation that the social media company crushed or bought rivals and once again asking a judge to force the social media giant to sell Instagram and WhatsApp.

The agency did so at the invitation of Judge James Boasberg, who had said that its previous effort fell short.

Judge Boasberg, however, threw out a related state lawsuit entirely, saying the attorneys-general had waited too long. They have indicated that they plan to appeal.

Four lawsuits against Google

The US Justice Department sued Alphabet’s Google in October, accusing the US$1 trillion (S$1.36 trillion) company of illegally using its market muscle to hobble rivals. A trial date was set for Sept 12, 2023.

A lawsuit by 38 US states and territories accuses Google of abusing its market power to try to make its search engine as dominant inside cars, TV sets and speakers as it is in phones. This was consolidated with the federal lawsuit for purposes of discovery.

Texas, backed by other states, filed a separate lawsuit against Google, accusing it of breaking antitrust law in how it runs its online advertising business.

Dozens of state attorneys general sued Google on July 7, alleging it bought off competitors and used restrictive contracts to unlawfully maintain a monopoly for its app store on Android phones.

Justice department investigates Apple

This probe, revealed in June 2019, appears to focus on Apple’s app store. Some app developers have accused Apple of introducing new products very similar to existing apps created by other developers and sold in the Apple Store, and then trying to banish the older apps from the store because they compete with Apple’s new product. Apple says it seeks to have only the highest-quality apps in the app store.

Justice department probing Facebook and Amazon

In July 2019, the Justice Department said it was expanding its Big Tech probes to include “search, social media, and some retail services online” - an apparent reference to Facebook and Amazon.com

Federal Trade Commission on Amazon

In its investigation of Amazon, the FTC is likely looking at the inherent conflict of interest of Amazon competing with small sellers on its marketplace platform, including allegations that it used information from sellers on its platform to decide what products it would introduce.