By Ryan Tracy and John D. McKinnon 

WASHINGTON -- America's biggest technology companies have leveraged their dominance to stamp out competition and stifle innovation, according to a Democratic-led House panel, which called on Congress to force tech giants to separate popular online platforms from other business lines.

The report released Tuesday from Democratic staff of the House Antitrust Subcommittee capped a 16-month inquiry into the market power of Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Apple Inc.

It says Facebook and Google have monopoly power, while Apple and Amazon have "significant and durable market power," and criticizes U.S. antitrust enforcement agencies as failing to curb their dominance.

The 449-page report recommends Congress consider a series of measures in response, including legislation forcing them to separate their popular online platforms from other business lines as well as changes to antitrust laws to reinvigorate a perceived lack of strong enforcement.

The report carries no legal consequences on its own, but lawmakers hope its conclusions will spur policy makers to action.

"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 says. "These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake."

Republicans on the House panel didn't sign on to the report and have said in interviews in recent days that they share concerns about the tech companies but disagree with some farther-reaching Democratic policy recommendations.

"It's very important that we proceed with a scalpel and not a chain saw, " said Rep. Ken Buck (R., Col.), a member of the subcommittee.

The companies are expected to vigorously challenge the report's findings.

Ahead of the report's release, the Consumer Technology Association, an industry group, published a statement saying the tech sector is "the reason for America's global innovation leadership and powers our economy" and warned against action targeting its most successful companies. "To undercut our nation's 'crown jewel' companies would take our competitiveness out at the knees."

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com and John D. McKinnon at john.mckinnon@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 06, 2020 17:11 ET (21:11 GMT)

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