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FTC demands data about small buys by Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft

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The Federal Trade Commission has issued special orders to five big tech companies – Alphabet Inc's Google unit, Amazon.com Inc , Apple Inc , Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp – to provide information on mergers that were too small to report to antitrust regulators, the FTC said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are seen in a combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photos/File Photo

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WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission has issued special orders to five big tech companies: Alphabet Inc's Google unit, Amazon.com Inc , Apple Inc , Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp: to provide information on mergers that were too small to report to antitrust regulators, the FTC said on Tuesday.

The queries occur at a time when the Justice Department, the FTC, state attorneys general and the House Judiciary Committee are all investigating the big tech platforms for potential anti-competitive behavior. They are accused of using their clout to defend their market share or to expand into adjacent markets.

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FTC Chairman Joe Simons declined to rule out an enforcement action based on results of the study. "All options are on the table," he said.

Google, Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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The agency asked for information about deals that were done between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2019.

The orders require each company to identify transactions that were too small to report to the FTC and Justice Department, which assess mergers to ensure that they comply with antitrust law.

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"The commission plans to use the information obtained in this study to examine trends in acquisitions and the structure of deals, including whether acquisitions not subject to (antitrust) notification might have raised competitive concerns," the statement said.

The tech giants have come under fire from both sides of the political spectrum, with Republicans irked by what they say is a stifling of conservative voices on social media and Democrats angered by increasing consolidation.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, has explicitly called for federal regulators to undo "ant-competitive mergers," including Amazon's purchases of Whole Foods and Zappos, Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram and Google's acquisitions of Waze, Nest and DoubleClick.

Alphabet spent US$1 billion (772.20 million pounds) on an unspecified number of small acquisitions in 2019, according to securitieRead More – Source