Lawmakers Slam Big Tech ‘Monopolies’ In New Report

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A House of Representatives panel said in a report Tuesday that four Big Tech firms are “monopolies” which abuse their market dominance and called for sweeping changes to antitrust laws and enforcement, which could potentially lead to breakups of the giant firms.

But the report by the staff of the House Judiciary Committee failed to win the endorsement of Republican members, highlighting a partisan divide despite widespread criticism of the tech giants.

The 449-page document concluded that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google “engage in a form of their own private quasi regulation that is unaccountable to anyone but themselves.”

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” the report said.

The report comes after an investigation of more than 15 months and hearings this year with the top executives of the four firms, in parallel to antitrust probes being led by federal and state enforcers.

Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler and antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline said in a joint statement that the tech firms “each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy” and that all have “exploited their power of the marketplace in anticompetitive ways.”

The report suggests moves which could lead to breakups without offering details on doing so.

It calls for “structural separations” to prohibit companies from competing on platforms they operate.

A congressional report called for sweeping changes to antitrust laws and enforcement in response to the growing power of Big Tech firms, but Republican lawmakers declined to endorse the findings A congressional report called for sweeping changes to antitrust laws and enforcement in response to the growing power of Big Tech firms, but Republican lawmakers declined to endorse the findings Photo: AFP / DENIS CHARLET

Also recommended was a requirement that platforms allow “interoperability” with competitors and the establishment of a standard to halt acquisitions that hurt

The Technology 202: Activists slam Palantir for its work with ICE ahead of market debut

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But activist groups and human rights watchdogs say that the company’s track record of working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and countries with questionable human rights records makes it a bad investment. They spent the last week protesting online and in-person to highlight concerns to investors ahead of the public listing. 

“There is a high risk that Palantir is contributing to human rights violations of asylum-seekers and migrants through the ways the company’s technology facilitates ICE operations,” Amnesty International said in a report released yesterday that accused Palantir of failing to guarantee its software isn’t being used to aid in human rights abuses and racial profiling against migrants. Palantir, which declined to comment for this piece citing its “quiet period” running up to the public listing, has said its software is not used for raids or deportations. 

Co-founded by Peter Thiel, a prominent donor to President Trump, the company has flourished under the Trump administration. It’s picked up contracts not just in defense and immigration but also a roughly $25 million deal with the Department of Health and Human Services to work on the response to the coronavirus pandemic. But its work providing digital profiling tools to ICE that helps with raids and deportations has long made it a target of activists and even caused turmoil within its own ranks. 

Civil rights groups in the United States are now turning to the Internet to protest. 

Civil and labor rights groups Color of Change, Jobs with Justice, Fight for the Future and MediaJustice joined an online protest yesterday led by immigration rights advocacy group Mijente. The online demonstration, which followed a week of in-person protests at Palantir’s offices, spread the hashtag #DefundPalantir to raise awareness about the data analytics software company’s work with ICE. 

Mijente, which launched the #NoTechForICE campaign in