BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Congressional Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee on Tuesday issued an antitrust report against the big four technology companies, accusing them of abusing market power. The report ends a 15-month congressional investigation into Apple Inc., Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., and recommends a spin-off of the companies and the most comprehensive overhaul of decades of antitrust laws.
U.S. Congressional Antitrust Report.
The 449-page report has the support of only Democratic members of Congress. Here are 12 allegations against Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook:
Apple monopolizes the app market on the iPhone and iPad, allowing it to extract too much of the app developer’s sales, creating “extraordinary” profits. Since Apple introduced its pumping policy more than a decade ago, the company has charged a 30 percent commission on many app sales, forcing many developers to raise prices for consumers or invest less in their apps.
The allegations against the App Store in the report.
Apple has used its control of the App Store to punish rivals, including lowering their ranking in search results, limiting their communication with consumers and taking their apps directly off the app store. Apple is sometimes the sole enforcer of opaque App Store rules, offering developers few options to complain about.
Apple favors autonomous apps and services on its devices, pre-installing them on the devices, making them the default option for a range of actions. For example, when iPhone users click on a web link, song, or address, their device usually opens the Apple app. This advantage, combined with services deeply integrated into Apple’s software, makes it difficult for third-party applications and services to compete.
Google crawls information from third parties without permission to improve its search results and maintain its search monopoly. At other times, Google will adjust its search to help its own services, weakening rival services.
The report’s allegations against Google Search.
The committee found that Google would do everything it could to keep Google Search at the top of its users’ list. In the past, Google has forced smartphone makers to pre-install Google Search to access its Google Play App Store using Google’s Android system. Google paid Apple billions of dollars to become the default search engine on the iPhone and took steps to prevent users from switching to other search providers in Chrome.
Google has nine products with more than 1 billion users, which provides Google with a wealth of data. The data could be used as “near-perfect market intelligence” to strengthen its dominance, as Google can track new products or services that users are using in real time to closely monitor rivals.
Amazon leverages the company’s market power as both the largest online retailer and leading e-commerce platform to expand its lead and limit potential competitors. Amazon sets the rules for digital commerce. About 2.3 million third-party sellers worldwide do business on Amazon’s Marketplace platform, and 37 percent use Amazon as their sole source of income, effectively putting them at hostage to Amazon’s evolving strategy, the report said.
The report’s allegations against Amazon AWS Market Forces.
Amazon collects sales and product data from its Marketplace platform to spot popular products, then copies and launches self-competitive products, often at lower prices. A former Amazon employee told House investigators that Amazon was first a data company that used data to sell products.
Amazon unfairly treats some open source developers in the cloud computing market, with AWS, Amazon’s cloud computing service, dominating the market. The developers’ software is often shared for free. “We developed the work first, and then some big companies used it to make money, ” says one open source engineer. “
· Facebook’s monopoly on social networking is “deeply entrenched” and the company has snuffed out rivals through strategic acquisitions and plagiarism. Services such as Onavo, a data analytics firm acquired by Facebook, for example, have helped the company find “quick-first-mover warning signs” and know which would-be rivals are rising rapidly in the app store.
The report’s allegations about Facebook’s acquisition.
· Facebook has developed so powerful that internal investigations have found that the biggest competition it faces comes from within itself. Services such as Facebook’s Instagram are growing so fast that they are on the rise to surpass Facebook in popularity. Mark Zuckerberg quickly adjusted his strategy, which was described by one employee as “complicit, but in an internal monopoly”.
Because of Facebook’s lack of competition, user privacy has been eroded, and fake news and harmful content have proliferated on various Facebook services. These services are regularly used by more than 3 billion people.