Washington officially opened an extensive survey of US technology giants, social networks, search engines as commercial sites suspected of resorting to anti-competitive practices Tuesday.
Authorities do not name the target companies, but appear to be targeting companies like Google, Facebook, or Amazon that dominate the relevant markets.
Although it mainly sells iPhone and other electronic devices, Apple may also be in the fire line to the point where the group manages the online store with the App Store.
According to a statement, the US Department of Justice wants to know whether these companies "Participate in practices that have reduced competition, prevented innovation or affected consumers",
US regulators and competition voters have been bombed for several months by tech giants accused of too much or even monopoly power.
In this way, the House of Representatives' Judicial Committee announced in early June the opening of an investigation "Competition in the digital market", saying that "A small number of dominant and unregulated platforms" I had "Exclusive Power in Commerce, Communications and Online Information",
Google, for example, is regularly suspected that the search engine results in favor of its own services to the detriment of its competitors.
Internet users' fears
The purpose of the study announced on Tuesday is "Assess competitive conditions on online platforms in an objective and balanced way and ensure that Americans have a choice of competition", the statement said.
Authorities want "Take into account the widespread fears of consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs" which have "Increased concerns about search services, social networks and e-commerce platforms",
"Without the discipline of significant competition, digital platforms can use ways that do not meet consumer requirements"Macan Dellachim, an antitrust officer at the US Department of Justice, said in a statement.
The US authorities are not the only ones to blame the giants of the Silicon Valley for their practices.
By accusing them of violating the competition rules, the European Commission has already imposed three heavy fines for less than two years on Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and announced last week to "Comprehensive Investigation" to the online marketing giant Amazon, who suspects that he uses data from independent retailers who sell on his site to his advantage.
US regulators have the power not only to impose rescued fines in the event of non-compliance with the competition rules but also to impose measures "Structural" to ensure greater competition in the market, including divisions.
Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives says such a sanction seems unlikely.
"This fight of the titans between Washington and giants of technology makes more noise than harm" for the sector and "Perhaps it will lead to some modifications of the economic model, not the forced dissolution of the activities""he commented in a note.
In any case, the companies concerned will be able to respond to these allegations regarding the publication of their quarterly results, Facebook Wednesday and Thursday for Amazon and the alphabet.