Makan Delharim believes that the current code is more than sufficient to ensure competition in the technology industry.
As federal enforcement officials begin to investigate Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Amazon over potential antitrust violations, some policemen and legal experts have asked whether new laws are needed to clear the companies. But in a speech at a conference in Tel Aviv Israel on Tuesday, Makan, the supreme antitrust officer in the Ministry of Justice, showed that he is not among them.
"We already have the tools we need to enforce the antitrust law in matters involving digital technology," said Makan, an assistant lawyer in the speech, which CNBC previously reported. "The US antitrust law is flexible enough to be used on old and new markets."
Pointing out the government's case 20 years ago against Microsoft and the nation's long history of challenging the power of dominant companies, he added: "Those who say we need new or changed antitrust laws to tackle monopoly issues should look at history and take heart. "
Debate has grown over anything, political decision makers should do with the power of the big tech companies. Google's parenting letter has already been fined by European regulators three times for competition-competitive measures. Apple has just lost a ruling by the US Supreme Court in an antitrust case and is the subject of a formal antitrust complaint in Europe made by Spotify. Facebook has thoroughly scrutinized all the data it gathers on its billions of users and how its vast social network has been hijacked to spread propaganda widely.
Antitrust Laws are Old but Sufficient
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission have split up the four largest tech companies, with DOJ watching Apple and Alphabet and the FTC taking on Amazon and Facebook .
But some antitrust experts and other policemen have argued that new laws are needed to control the companies. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who runs for president, has called for legislation that would classify as a "tool" any technology company with more than $ 25 billion in revenue running a marketplace or having its own platform. It would also carry the technical tools from owning companies participating in their service.
The United States has two major antitrust laws ̵[ads1]1; the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act. Both are more than 100 years old and were written in an earlier monopoly year, but in Delrahim's view, they are robust enough to deal with some of today's problems.
"Through their general formulation, and their focus on competition process and consumer terms, the antitrust law allows US courts to apply legal principles and sound economic reasoning to identify harmful practices that antitrust law should prevent," he said.
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DOJ is concerned with more than just pricing  In the In recent years, many antitrust experts on the left have reported that the courts and enforcement controls have paid too much attention to consumer prices in assessing the impact of the company's dominance over a particular market or potential merger. But Delrahim pushed back against that view.
DOJ acknowledges that monopolies sometimes lower prices and that limited competition may be detrimental, except for only increased consumer spending, he said. Innovation and quality can also be prevented when companies have too much power or too few competitors to keep them honest.
"The antitrust department does not take a myopic view of the competition," Delrahim said. "It's well decided … that the competition has price and non-price dimensions," he continued.
But as DOJ ramps off his probe for Alphabet and Apple, Delrahim himself is now subject to criticism. Warren on Tuesday asked him to take care of any investigation in the two companies, due to lobbying he did for them. Delrahim lobbied on behalf of Google in 2007 for the acquisition of DoubleClick and on behalf of Apple in 2006 and 2007 on patent issues.
"Your previous work as a lobbyist for two of the world's largest and most controlled technology companies creates the appearance of conflict of interest," Warren said in a letter to Delrahim, previously reported by The Verge. "As the head of the antitrust division at DOJ, you should not monitor surveys to past clients who paid you tens of thousands of dollars to lobby the federal government."
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