微网微信 | 中心微博 | 投稿邮箱
 
beat365贴吧
 国内新闻 
 国外新闻 
 
当前位置: 首页 >> beat365贴吧 >> 国外新闻 >> 正文
Big Tech in hiring spree for looming antitrust battles
2018年12月24日 21:58 

Big technology and telecoms companies have embarked on a hiring spree of former antitrust officials as their industries gear up for what experts warn could be an “existential” battle over whether they should be broken up.


In the last few months, Facebook, Amazon and AT&T have all hired senior antitrust officials from the US Department of Justice as they confront a new generation of regulators who are interested in preventing concentrations of economic power.


Critics have dismissed the increased interest in antitrust from younger economists and regulators in particular as “hipster antitrust”— but it has begun to catch the attention of some of America’s biggest companies.


Since the summer, Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney-general for antitrust in the justice department, has lost two of his senior advisers to technology companies: Bryson Bachman to Amazon and Brinkley Tappan to AT&T. Both worked on the move to block the merger of the health insurers Cigna and Anthem.


Meanwhile Kate Patchen, who previously led the justice department’s antitrust office in San Francisco, last month joined Facebook as an associate general counsel on litigation matters.


All of the companies declined to comment on the moves.


Many of the biggest US technology companies have endured a difficult year, facing allegations of not protecting customer data, failing to prevent Russian interference in American democracy and showing political bias.


In response, several have beefed up their lobbying operations in Washington as they look to engage more with politicians, having previously preferred to operate under the radar. Amazon for example has doubled the size of its lobbying team since Donald Trump became US president.


Experts say the hirings reflect a growing belief that competition policy could become the next significant political battleground.


Brandon Barford, a partner at Beacon Policy Advisors, said: “Lots of technology companies are worried about things that are currently making headlines, such as Russian electoral interference and data privacy.


“But while these issues are problematic, the real existential threat to their businesses is antitrust. Any company of a certain size that does not have a tonne of competitors is vulnerable.”


The European Commission has investigated US technology companies for alleged anti-competitive behaviour. Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, is bringing cases against Google and is looking into Amazon.


Such cases have been more difficult to pursue in the US, where the law is focused more on whether anti-competitive behaviour is keeping prices artificially high.


A group of younger progressive regulators and politicians have argued in recent years, however, that technology companies that give their services away for free but dominate their markets should come in for as much attention.


Rohit Chopra, a Federal Trade Commissioner in his mid-30s, for example, recently hired Lina Khan, a 29-year-old policy thinker who has argued that large technology companies can both bring prices down and be harmful to society in general.


These policy experts have allies among more established Democrats, such as Elizabeth Warren, the senator for Massachusetts.


Last week, David Cicilline, a Democratic representative in Rhode Island, told Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, during a House judiciary committee hearing: “It has become increasingly clear that the virtuous cycle of [technological] innovation is fundamentally threatened by the dominance of a few powerful companies.”


There are even some signs of concern in the White House. Last month Donald Trump, the US president, told Axios “I do have a lot of people talking about monopoly when they mention those three [Google, Facebook and Amazon] in particular.”


One executive at a large US technology company said: “We do not think we have too much market power, but we see that it is a big topic of conversation right now, especially with the new Democrat-controlled Congress coming in. It is something we are very aware of.”


( Kiran Stacey)


 
京ICP备05047287号 | 网站地图 | 网站统计 | Copyright?中国竞争法网