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FTC Big Tech Probe Expands With New Inquiries

A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation into the biggest five tech companies in the U.S. has expanded with a new inquiry about acquisitions, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The FTC is investigating Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft over antitrust implications, and it recently asked the companies to turn over information regarding takeovers of smaller companies between the years of 2010 and 2019.

While the query doesn’t cite a specific reason for the inquiries, it said the answers will help the FTC “deepen its understanding of large technology firms’ acquisition activity,” and “whether large tech companies are making potentially anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors” that are too small to have the requirement of federal review.

“Digital technology companies are a big part of the economy and our daily lives,” said FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. “This initiative will enable the commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers.”

The FTC said it’s going to use the answers to look into whether there are patterns about competition issues, and whether the acquisitions were done in an attempt to squash potential rivals. It also wants to examine how the smaller companies operated post-acquisition.

The FTC announced in 2019 that it was putting together a task force to look into tech industry antitrust violations.

The organization especially wanted to look into mergers that were approved by the government, which could possibly mean that the FTC could separate those companies if they find cause to do so.

The FTC panel said it wanted the commission to look into “consumer protection issues arising from the privacy and data security practices of technology companies, including social media platforms.”

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