Big Tech hearing gives clues on future of antitrust law

In the last of seven hearings to investigate concerns that Google parent Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) are operating as illegal monopolies, witnesses before the House Antitrust Subcommittee Thursday clashed on whether Congress should overhaul U.S. antitrust law.

Proposals from witnesses before the committee, including several antitrust experts, could be a clue to changes forthcoming from the committee. They ranged from introducing legislation that would break up Big Tech companies and overturn judicial precedent to increased funding for antitrust law enforcers to maintaining status quo. 

‘Quintessentially a congressional job’

Zephyr Teachout, associate professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, told the subcommittee on Thursday that Congress, not the Supreme Court, should regulate Big Tech. “It is quintessentially a congressional job to respond to this threat,” Teachout said, calling for “significant” new legislation.

NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES - 2018/09/13: Zephyr Teachout seen speaking on phone during her campaign for Attorney General. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES – 2018/09/13: Zephyr Teachout seen speaking
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House Democrats discuss tougher antitrust law, some Republicans agree

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel discussed ways to tighten antitrust laws on Thursday, with two Republicans on the Democrat-dominated panel indicating potential support for some changes.

The antitrust subcommittee, chaired by Representative David Cicilline, is expected to release a much-anticipated report into the four big tech companies — Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O>, Facebook Inc <FB.O>, Apple <APPL.O> and Alphabet’s Google <GOOGL.O> — as soon as Monday.

In the hearing, Cicilline said the tech companies used strategies such as self-preferencing and predatory pricing to grow. “These once-scrappy, underdog startups have grown into the kinds of monopolies we last saw more than a century ago,” he said.

One witness, Bill Baer, who headed the Justice Department Antitrust Division during the Obama administration, argued to the committee that successive court rulings over the years have made it harder to block a merger.

“If courts

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