With Antitrust Legislation against Big Tech still building, the DOJ is apparently in the Wings drafting a possible antitrust suit against Apple
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The wave of news about the EU and US Antitrust activity against Silicon Valley giants seems to have been building for years in the press. In April 2021 the EU warned Apple about it's online App Store was abusing it's dominant position. In June 2021 Senator Klobuchar was confident that a small but powerful group of Senators would push their new antitrust proposals through Congress. That's yet to occur. In March 2022 the EU Commission welcomed the swift political agreement between the European Parliament and EU Member States on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that will lay out the dos and don'ts for Apple, Amazon, Google, Meta and other US giants. These are only a few of reports about pending antitrust cases against Apple.
Then in late July we posted a report titled "Apple Lobbied for an addition to the American Choice and Innovation Act that would make it easier to defend against any anti-competitive practice on the basis of protecting user privacy." Yet before that even has a chance of getting approved or included in the Act, the DOJ may decide to move against Apple.
According to a Politico report posted today, "Justice Department lawyers are in the early stages of drafting a potential antitrust complaint against Apple, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter — a sign that a long-running investigation may be nearing a decision point and a suit could be coming soon.
Various groups of prosecutors inside DOJ are assembling the pieces for a potential lawsuit, the individual said, adding that the department’s antitrust division hopes to file suit by the end of the year.
Still, the Justice Department has made no decisions whether or when to sue Apple." Though, "The timing of a potential DOJ case against the company is almost certain to be dictated at least in part by the Epic case. Justice Department officials will likely want to wait for the outcome of the appeal to help decide how to frame a possible lawsuit. In her ruling, the trial judge expressly said that while Epic did not prove its case, it’s possible that another plaintiff could."
The suit would be the latest major legal problem besetting the country’s biggest tech companies two years after federal regulators and multiple states filed antitrust cases against Google and Facebook. And it would be the DOJ’s first antitrust suit against one of the tech titans during President Joe Biden’s administration.
The Justice Department has been investigating Apple since 2019 over allegations that it abused its market power to stifle smaller tech companies, including app developers and competing hardware makers. As the investigation has progressed, a suit has become increasingly likely, but the move to drafting sections of the suit is a significant step forward in the process.
The Apple case is particularly significant because it would open a second, massive battle with the tech industry at DOJ. The Justice Department is already litigating a case against Google over its search business and is preparing a second lawsuit over its advertising operations. For more on this, read the full report by Politico.