Critics of Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet have accused the tech giants of buying up their smaller rivals to prevent competition.
They have pointed towards Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, Apple’s purchase of Beats in 2014, and Amazon’s 2010 takeover of Diapers.com as examples.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will look into the matter and has asked the companies to provide them with a history of their transactions for the past decade.
FTC chairman, Joseph Simons, said: “If during this study, we see that there are transactions that were problematic, it is conceivable we could go back and initiate enforcement actions to deal with those transactions.”
If any of the transactions are found to be untoward, the companies could face legal action. This would include forcing the companies to call off deals or section off parts of their business.
Simons added: “…all options are on the table.”
Currently, in the US, companies must report any dealings worth over $90 million to the government. But, critics are worried that the tech giants are buying up their rivals for less to avoid the need for any notification.
This FTC investigation might influence the debate surrounding changes to which types of deals the government should be made aware.
Facebook is currently facing an antitrust investigation by the FTC, which is inquiring into the “hardball tactics” used by the company to take over competitors.
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