PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — The U.S. Department of Justice is launching a sweeping antitrust investigation into big tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple.
“The big question is, are these guys too big,” said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock. “And the allegation is, yes they are.”
The DOJ wants a clear picture of whether major tech companies own too many pieces of the market and are hurting competition or suppressing innovation by buying small start ups and stopping potential rivals. Some argue doing so harms consumers who could be exposed to other products.
In a recent interview with CBS Evening News Anchor Norah O’Donnell, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he didn’t think that his company was too big.
“I think that…with size, I think scrutiny is fair,” he said.
“Apple’s big, on the other hand, Apple will very quickly tell you that they have market competitors and they do,” said Hancock.
The probe comes in the wake of lawmakers and presidential candidates calling for stricter regulations and threatening to break up big tech.
But Hancock said it’s remains to be seen whether the probe will change the landscape of Silicon Valley. He said the DOJ can launch an investigation and make recommendations on changes, but it would be up to Congress to break up the companies.
“It’s the first time that Silicon Valley is getting tossed around like a football,” Hancock said.
“What’s interesting about this is that tech is being demonized by Democrats, including presidential candidates, but it’s also getting swiped at by the White House, the current President and conservative forces in the Republican party who feel like it’s stifling free speech in a way.”
Google was the only company to respond with a statement. A spokesperson pointed out one of its staff member’s recent testimony at a House hearing where he reiterated that Google’s business operations benefits its customers.