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Lawmakers say Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google are abusing their power and must be reined in

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before a House subcommittee in July.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before a House subcommittee in July.MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — A House panel has proposed a series of far-reaching antitrust measures to curb the power of US technology giants, including Amazon.com and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the result of a yearlong antitrust investigation that found the companies abuse their dominance.

The recommendations, in a 449-page report from the House antitrust subcommittee, represent the most dramatic proposal to overhaul competition law in decades and could lead to the breakup of tech companies if approved by Congress.

“Companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the Democratic-led panel said. “These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake.”

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The report’s most draconian recommendation is for Congress to consider legislation that would either prevent tech companies from owning different lines of businesses, which could lead to a breakup of the companies, or impose certain organizational structures on the companies.

The stocks of the four large technology companies targeted in the report, Amazon, Apple., Facebook, and Google, all fell slightly more than the overall market, which dropped on news that President Trump was suspending economic stimulus negotiations.

Google fell 2.2 percent to $1,451.02, Apple dropped 2.9 percent to $113.16, Amazon fell 3.1 percent to $3099.96, and Facebook was down 2.3 percent to $258.66.

The lawmakers' goal would be to reduce conflicts of interest that come from competing with other companies that depend on the platforms to access users, according to the report.

“Their ability both to use their dominance in one market as negotiating leverage in another, and to subsidize entry to capture unrelated markets, have the effect of spreading concentration from one market into others, threatening greater and greater portions of the digital economy,” the report said.

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