House antitrust subcommittee will investigate internet competition

It wants to address concerns about internet 'gatekeepers.'

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AP Photo/Alex Brandon
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The US government is about to intensify its scrutiny of tech giants. The House Antitrust Subcommittee has launched a bipartisan investigation that will gauge the level of competition in online markets. It's concerned that a "handful of gatekeepers" have extensive control of the internet, and it wants to know if these companies are abusing their power or otherwise stifling others. Politicians will also determine whether or not existing antitrust laws, policies and enforcement are enough to correct behavior.

It's still early days, but the committee is planning a "series of hearings" and intends to request info while conducting the investigation. Not surprisingly, officials were open to the prospect of creating new laws if necessary.

The announcement comes just days after a report of a possible Justice Department investigation of Google, and weeks after Democratic presidential candidates have floated the idea of breaking up internet companies like Facebook. Although there's no certainty that the committee or other efforts will lead to political action, it's evident that many on both sides of the aisle aren't happy with the online status quo -- and that companies shouldn't assume they can maintain business as usual.

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