White House's Investigation of Google and Facebook

The US President Donald Trump has been hitting out at technology giants like Facebook, and Google for a long time, claiming that the companies are trying to silence conservatives and publishing fake news. Now, as per reports the White House is preparing to investigate the business practices of the technology companies.

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Federal agencies to investigate whether the antitrust laws are being followed by tech giants. The White House has drafted an executive antitrust order for the US President to sign to allow federal agencies to investigate the social networking sites. The executive order will instruct the federal agencies to investigate into the business related practices of both Google and Facebook.

The executive order, which is still in its preliminary stages, has not been looked over by other government agencies yet, according to a White House official. A draft copy of the order, which was obtained by Bloomberg, instructs the competition law (antitrust) authorities to investigate the “online platforms” thoroughly and find whether they have acted in “violation of the antitrust laws” or not. You might have noted that the order says “online platforms” and has not specified the name of the tech companies.

The federal agencies have been instructed by the order to develop recommendations on ways to address online platform bias and protect competition among online platforms within a month. The order has not been finalized yet because the federal agencies are yet to consult on its contents and then send it to the US president for the final approval. There have been concerns about the action being in conflict with the First Amendment and threaten the independence of U. S. law enforcement but the draft order has specifically noted that all the actions that the federal agencies take must be consistent with other laws.

Trump accuses tech companies of bias against conservative voices. The order says it is “essential that American citizens are protected from anticompetitive acts by dominant online platforms because of their critical role in American society. ” In addition to this, the draft order states that consumer harm could come through the exercise of bias. Mr. Trump has constantly accused the tech companies of being bias, tweeting that “Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. ” Trump had said the tech companies are closing down the opinions of many people on the Right, while simultaneously doing nothing to others. ” The draft order could let federal agencies to investigate whether the products of the tech giants can be twisted to support themselves in an anti-competitive manner.

When it comes to being strict against online platforms, the European Union has taken most stringent steps, recently fining the search giant over £3. 8 billion for abusing its control of the Android OS. It seems the US government could come up with its own rules to fight fake news on online platforms.

13 January 2020

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