Judiciary Democrat says small firms fear retaliation from big tech in antitrust probe

Judiciary Democrat says small firms fear retaliation from big tech in antitrust probe
© Greg Nash

A member of the House Judiciary Committee warned Friday that smaller tech companies fear retaliation from larger ones as the panel probes potential misuse of market power.

Reuters reported that Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing Critics slam billion Facebook fine as weak MORE (D-R.I.) called the unwillingness of smaller companies to assist Congress with an investigation into whether Google, Facebook and other companies violate antitrust laws an example of the "dangerous consequence" of the power wielded by larger companies.

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“If you look at the size of some of the large platforms, their ability to exclude people from the platform can result in closing the business,” he reportedly said.

“That’s sort of the most dangerous consequence of this kind of concentration is the ability to exclude rivals, put them out of business, diminish innovation, diminish entrepreneurship, diminish choices for consumers,” Cicilline added.

Smaller companies' relationship with major platforms such as Google “makes them concerned about raising their voice, raising concerns about the monopoly power of these platforms," he said.

Facebook and Google representatives did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have discussed for months the possibility of regulating major tech companies seen as having too much strength in the market, pointing to recent failures by companies such as Facebook to protect the data of millions of users.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Will Trump's racist tweets backfire? Al Green: 'We have the opportunity to punish' Trump with impeachment vote MORE (D-Calif.) told Recode's Kara Swisher in April that the era of self-regulation for major tech companies should "probably" end in the U.S.

"In the U.K., as you know, they’ve said the era of self-regulation ... of these companies is over," Pelosi said at the time.

"Is it over in this country?" Swisher responded.

"It probably should be," Pelosi added. "Yeah, I mean, I think we have to subject it all to scrutiny and to cost-benefits and all that, but I do think that it’s a new era."