In Europe and, increasingly, the U.S. there’s a growing sense in political and regulatory circles that more dramatic measures are needed to address a concentration of power among tech giants. Tuesday afternoon, the head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said for the first time that breaking up companies was on the table.
Breaking up is a now potential remedy. This is an idea that several European Commissioners floated a few years ago but few took it seriously as more than a bargaining position. The statement from FTC Chairman Joe Simons is quite different.
Simons told Bloomberg that breaking up companies could be “the right remedy” to restore competition, although he’s reluctant to try it unless absolutely necessary. Currently, the FTC and Justice Department are engaged in a broad review of the operations and business practices of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.
Unwinding Waze and Instagram. In particular, the FTC could compel the “unwinding of acquisitions” such as Waze (Google), WhatsApp, Instagram (Facebook), among others. Some have suggested Facebook adding its brand to WhatsApp and Instagram is partly about making it more difficult for regulators to unwind those acquisitions.
Separately, earlier today, more than 20 European job search sites sent a joint letter to the European Commission, as a prelude to formal complaints. They’re arguing that the company’s own job-search answer box is harming competition and hurting their traffic and profits. This criticism has been leveled by numerous industry rivals, in segments ranging from shopping to local and travel.
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