The lawmakers are looking for a wide range of information, including emails between executives, a breakdown of their competitors and their market share in key businesses like online advertising and e-commerce.
“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,” Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said in a statement.
The chief executives of the four companies received formal requests from the committee, according to The New York Times. The committee said it was investigating “whether dominant firms are engaging in anticompetitive conduct.” The formal request gave each company a deadline of Oct. 14 to turn in the documents.
“This information is key in helping determine whether anticompetitive behavior is occurring, whether our antitrust enforcement agencies should investigate specific issues and whether or not our antitrust laws need improvement to better promote competition in the digital markets,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the committee’s ranking Republican, according to The Hill.
The committee’s investigation is one of many Silicon Valley is currently grappling with. In July, the Justice Department launched an antitrust probe into whether companies like Facebook and Amazon have unlawfully “reduced competition” and “stifled innovation.” Facebook is facing an antitrust probe from multiple states, and earlier this week, 50 attorneys general opened an investigation into Google’s dominance of online advertising and search.
Despite the added pressure from Washington, antitrust experts recently told TheWrap that the breakup of major tech firms is anything but a sure thing. Penn State antitrust professor John Lopatka said there are “two necessary ingredients” that would be needed to take action against companies like Facebook and Google: Not only does there have to be proof Facebook and Google are monopolies, but you’d also have to show they extended their monopoly “through anti-competitive conduct.”