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House Antitrust Committee Requests Info From Tech Giant Customers

'The survey appears geared toward businesses that pay the big technology companies for services such as cloud computing, digital advertising and help selling mobile apps and products online,' the report says. 'It doesn’t appear to focus on general retail consumers that buy products from Amazon or iPhones from Apple.'

A House panel investigating whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are engaging in anti-competitive business practices now is said to be seeking information from the tech giants’ customers.

The House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law has sent an eight-page survey to the companies’ customers about competition in digital markets and the adequacy of regulatory enforcement, Bloomberg reported, citing documents that it’s reviewed.

The survey, sent as part of the bipartisan congressional investigation led by House antitrust subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-RI), is in addition to the extensive information requests that the lawmakers sent to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet themselves on Friday.

The customer survey, which doesn’t identify the tech giants by name, is requesting customers respond by mid-October about which companies dominate business sectors including cloud computing, mobile apps and app stores, search engines, digital advertising, social media, messaging, and e-commerce and logistics, Bloomberg reported. Customers are being asked to name the top providers for the services and how much they’ve paid those providers since the beginning of 2016. The customers, who were offered possible anonymity, also are being polled about alleged antitrust violations or business practices that harm competition, Bloomberg said.

“The survey appears geared toward businesses that pay the big technology companies for services such as cloud computing, digital advertising and help selling mobile apps and products online,” Bloomberg’s story said. “It doesn’t appear to focus on general retail consumers that buy products from Amazon or iPhones from Apple.”

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google could not be immediately reached for comment.

The document requests sent to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, meanwhile, seek organizational charts for the companies and their U.S. divisions, descriptions of each company’s products and services, information about the companies’ U.S. market shares and their competitors in various categories, the companies’ top 10 customers by revenue for certain products and services, financial statements, and documents produced in other antitrust probes or lawsuits, among other information.

“We made it clear when we launched this bipartisan investigation that we plan to get all the facts we need to diagnose the problems in the digital marketplace,” Cicilline said in a statement on Friday. “We expect stakeholders to use this opportunity to provide information to the committee to ensure that the Internet is an engine for opportunity for everyone, not just a select few gatekeepers.”

The House Antitrust Subcommittee’s probe is among several in the United States and Europe targeting the competitive positions of the tech giants, including the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of Amazon and Facebook and the Justice Department investigation of Google. Last Monday, 50 attorneys general also announced their own bipartisan antitrust investigation of Google.

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