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The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that as many as 20 states may join together in a joint antitrust probe of big tech companies, including Amazon, which will focus on “whether a handful of dominant technology platforms use their marketplace powers to stifle competition … the states are likely to issue civil investigative demands, similar to subpoenas, to tech companies and other businesses.”

Also expected to be a target of the probes: Apple, Facebook and Google.

This new probe would add “another layer of scrutiny to an industry already under a federal spotlight” from regulatory agencies and the US Congress, the story says. Regulators, lawmakers and legal experts “worry that significant slices of the high-tech marketplace have become uncompetitive. Those include advertising, search, social media, app sales and certain retail sectors, among others.”

The Journal writes that “the political makeup of the multistate group isn’t set. A bipartisan probe could give the investigation broader leverage and help insulate GOP officials from questions over whether their actions are motivated by political concerns, such as how online platforms treat conservative speech.”

The tech companies have not commented specifically on this development, but have generally maintained that they behave in a legal and pro-competitive fashion.
KC's View:
Seems to me that this is a time for these companies to be careful about their expansionist tendencies, lest they be seen as waving a muleta in front of regulatory bulls. I hope they all have someone at the table asking, “Do we really want to do this now?”

That said … these companies became what they are by not worrying about such things.