- President Donald Trump has dropped a huge hint that he is ready to pursue antitrust proceedings against tech firms such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
- “There is something going on in terms of monopoly,” Trump told CNBC on Monday morning, adding that Attorney General William Barr was looking into the matter.
- Trump pointed to fines handed out by the European Union to firms like Google and said, “We should be doing that – they’re our companies.”
- It follows widespread reports last week that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice had carved up oversight of the tech firms.
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President Donald Trump has dropped the biggest hint yet that his administration plans to pursue antitrust proceedings against some of the largest tech companies in America.
In a phone interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Trump said companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google could constitute a monopoly.
“There is something going on in terms of monopoly,” Trump said on Monday morning.
It follows widespread reports last week that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice had carved up oversight of the tech firms and were thinking about launching antitrust investigations.
The FTC has the power to look into Amazon and Facebook, which it is already examining over the giant Cambridge Analytica data breach last year. The DOJ, meanwhile, has jurisdiction over Apple and Google, with a source telling Business Insider last week that it was already looking into Google.
Trump said the European Union was “suing them all the time,” a reference to a string of antitrust rulings by Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, that have resulted in fines of up to $US5 billion for Google. “They get all this money,” he said of the EU. “Well, we should be doing that – they’re our companies.”
Trump indicated, however, that the US might take a different tact. “We’re going to maybe look at it differently,” he said. “We have a great attorney general – we’re going to look at it differently.”
He did not elaborate further on how the US or Attorney General William Barr might tackle the tech monopoly, what form any investigations might take, or what kind of fines might be handed out.
Trump also returned to his well-trodden argument that major tech firms such as Google have a liberal bias that does not favour his administration. “I can tell you they discriminate against me,” the president said.
He added: “The real collusion is between the Democrats and these companies because they were so against me during my election run. Everybody said if you don’t have them, you can’t win. Well I won, and I’ll win again because we’re doing well and we’re not the fools anymore.”
His view is shared by many Republicans, meaning he has support from some in his party to go after the likes of Google and Facebook. There is also political appetite on the left for antitrust proceedings, with the Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren notably calling for a breakup of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.
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