The Biden Administration is aiming legislation and antitrust enforcement actions, similar to the EU's DMA, against Apple, Google+
In 2020, tech companies supported Democrats over Republicans by a wide margin. It's on record that 84% of Apple's political donations and 88% of Google's went to support Democrats. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter went beyond money and suppressed Republican views and news coverage on their respective platforms, the most notable being Twitter due to recent revelations.
Yet with all that support from Apple and Google, it's being reported today that the Biden administration is taking aim at Apple and Google for operating mobile app stores that it says stifle competition. The move could mirror some of the key attributes laid out in the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA).
The Associated Press reports that "The finding is contained in a Commerce Department report being released by the administration on Wednesday as President Joe Biden convenes his competition council for an update on efforts to promote competition and lower prices.
The report from the department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration says the current app store model — dominated by Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. and Mountain View, California-based Google LLC — is 'harmful to consumers and developers' by inflating prices and reducing innovation. The firms have a stranglehold on the market that squelches competition, it adds.
Further, 'The policies that Apple and Google have in place in their own mobile app stores have created unnecessary barriers and costs for app developers, ranging from fees for access to functional restrictions that favor some apps over others.'
Biden stated that "When tech platforms get big enough, many find ways to promote their own products while excluding or disadvantaging competitors — or charge competitors a fortune to sell on their platform. My vision for our economy is one in which everyone — small and midsized businesses, mom-and-pop shops, entrepreneurs — can compete on a level playing field with the biggest companies."
Apple has defended the area surrounding its iPhone app store, known as a walled garden, as an indispensable feature prized by consumers who want the best protection available for their personal information. It has said it faces significant competition from various alternatives to video games on its iPhones. And Google has long defended itself against claims of monopoly.
Lastly, the Commerce Department report states that "new legislation and additional antitrust enforcement actions are likely necessary" to boost competition in the app ecosystem. For more, read the full AP report.
The Financial Times reported back in August 2021 that one of the most influential members in the Antitrust movement is now Lina Khan, a 32-year-old academic whom Joe Biden has appointed to revolutionise the FTC and return it to its trustbusting origins.
Last year Khan began a fundamental revamp of the commission, rescinding policies designed to limit its legal powers, changing the way it makes decisions and promising to rewrite the statements which underpin antitrust enforcement in the US. Supporters say she is putting in the foundations for a second trustbusting age.
Many progressives think the FTC has failed in its core mission. They point to the existence of giant US technology companies such as Google, Apple Facebook and Amazon and argue that monopolies have once more been allowed to take over the US economy. Read more on this in the Financial Times report.