New House Evidence is Bad News for Monopolistic Tech Titans

It’s always a great day to be a billionaire master of reality laying waste to all competition, but perhaps today a little less so

Congressional efforts to regulate two e-commerce monoliths have gotten some powerful new ammo, according to internal documents the House Judiciary Committee revealed in a report officially adopted Tuesday.

As Politico reports, the committee has shared emails, memos, and strategy papers it collected from Google and Amazon, which reveal policies of pushing their own products on their platforms, while sidelining competition. The House committee obtained these documents as part of its extended antitrust investigations of Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook parent Meta, which produced the 450-page staff report it made official Tuesday.

The documents support committee claims that these internet giants favored their own products, in violation of antitrust laws that pending legislation aims to update. “It is time for Congress to act,” Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David N. Cicilline (D-RI) said in a statement.

Among the findings in Google’s heavily redacted documents, are examples of pressure the company placed on Samsung and other mobile phone makers to give pride of place to Google-made apps. One Google exec sent an email on January 2014 expressing “grave concerns” that a new Samsung service might be “competing with our core search experience.”

The report also noted that Google seemed amenable to Samsung launching a “smart assistant” service in China, where Google does not provide service. In the same memo , the unnamed Google exec described how the company pressured Samsung to steer users of Google’s Gmail service away from Samsung’s own email App.

The released documents also include an email from an executive from an unnamed phone maker who pushed back against the high number of Google apps the company requires device makers to preinstall on their phones, saying that lowering the number would “help us deal with complaints from government, [non-governmental organizations] and end users.”

Emails like this, and other documents from Amazon as well as Meta-owned Facebook, amplify the pressure on Congress, specifically Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to pass a bill outlawing such anti-competitive measures, where corporate giants force their own products and services onto users at the expense of other firms that use their platforms.

“It’s additional compelling evidence for anyone who was still on the fence that these problems are real and the recommendations of the report need to be taken seriously by Congress,” said Charlotte Slaiman, the competition policy director of Public Knowledge— which is advocating for the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, introduced last year by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

The pending legislation would prohibit Google and Apple from favoring their own apps above those from competitors, and it would prevent Amazon prioritizing its private-label goods over products sold by retail competitors.

Speaking for Google, spokesman Peter Schottenfels told Politico: “The committee’s cherry-picked documents show consistent competition and a focus on delivering high-quality services to Android users.” He also said that Google disagrees with the report “which relies on outdated documents and inaccurate allegations from our commercial rivals.” A spokesperson for Amazon did not respond to a Politico’s request for comment.

Responding the to the full text of Facebook’s much-publicized Cunningham Memo, which purports to show the company was more concerned with competition between its own apps including the main Facebook site and Instagram, than any outside companies, a spokesperson for Facebook said the memo was cited widely in the report and is old news.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.