Technology companies have returned to the agenda of the United States Congress. Parliamentarians want to investigate possible anti-competitive practices in the industry and have therefore asked Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook to release a series of internal documents, including emails.
In a letter sent to companies, the US House Judiciary Committee states that it needs the documents and communication between executives to investigate possible “competition problems in the digital markets”.
The committee also says that the investigation aims to examine “whether dominant companies are involved in online anti-competitive conduct and whether existing antitrust laws, competition policies and current levels of enforcement are adequate to address these issues.”
The requests involve details such as the companies’ organization chart, financial reports and other documents that were sent in similar investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the US Department of Justice.
There are also specific requests for each company. To the Apple, for example, the committee asked for emails related to the decision that led to the removal of some parental control apps on the App Store and the agreement to sell iPhone units on Amazon.
The Chamber also wants details about the App Store’s search algorithm and whether Apple has taken advantage of its position as owner of the operating system to identify popular features, launch its version for them and thereby harm competitors.
In the case of Amazon, the committee asks for emails with discussions about how the company orders products on its website and how it decides to make acquisitions like Whole Foods and Ring. The letter also questions whether the company used its algorithms to pressure publishers and dominate the book market.
O Google, for its part, received a request to share emails with discussions about the purchase of brands like YouTube and Android, the operation of its algorithm and the suspension of applications in the Play Store.
Finally, the letter sent to Facebook asks for emails related to the purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram. The committee also requested information about Onavo, a VPN service that would have helped the company decide to purchase the messaging application.
The Chamber’s Judiciary Committee set October 14 as the deadline for submitting responses, but it may not have the expected result because the requests are not “official legal requirements”. Therefore, to make any progress, the group will need to rely on the goodwill of companies.