Analysis: DOJ takes more aggressive approach to antitrust
'We have a new sheriff in town,' says CCIA's Ed Black
IDG News Service - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has repealed a policy seen as being lax on antitrust violations, signaling a more aggressive approach toward antitrust enforcement under the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The DOJ's Antitrust Division has withdrawn a September report that "raised too many hurdles to government antitrust enforcement and favored extreme caution" toward antitrust enforcement action, the DOJ said. The change in policy could mean that the department looks harder at the actions of technology vendors such as Google, Oracle and IBM, as detractors have raised antitrust concerns about all three in recent months.
Christine Varney, assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division, said her comments, made during a speech Monday, weren't directed at any one company. She did say, however, that the DOJ should take close looks at the high-tech and Internet industries and new ways of measuring antitrust activity there. Varney also said the DOJ would look hard at mergers and their impact on competition.
"Withdrawing the ... report is a shift in philosophy and the clearest way to let everyone know that the Antitrust Division will be aggressively pursuing cases where monopolists try to use their dominance in the marketplace to stifle competition and harm consumers," Varney said during a speech. "The division will return to tried-and-true case law and Supreme Court precedent in enforcing the antitrust laws."
Spokesmen with Google and Intel declined to comment on the change in policy. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has an open antitrust investigation of Intel and the DOJ's change in policy wouldn't affect that.
In recent months, several detractors have raised concerns that Google has a near monopoly in online search advertising. In late 2008, the DOJ's concerns over a proposed advertising partnership between Google and Yahoo killed the deal.
Google recently has been meeting with lawmakers, journalists and others in an effort to explain its positions on business competition. Google's main message has been that competition with the search giant is "one click away."
"As Google has grown, the company has naturally faced more scrutiny about our business principles and practices," Adam Kovacevich, senior manager for Google's global communications and public affairs, wrote on the Google public policy blog Friday. "We believe that Google promotes competition and openness online, but we haven't always done a good job telling our story."
An antitrust expert at Boston University questioned the DOJ's decision. It's no surprise that the Obama administration would take a different approach than former President George W. Bush's administration, said antitrust expert Professor Keith Hylton.
Varney talked about cartels and price-fixing and praised the DOJ for working hard on those types of issues. There are a handful of industries where cartels still exist because of "powerful interest groups," and new actions against those industries would be welcome, Hylton said.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant Report
- For the 7th year in a row, Riverbed is in the "Leaders" Quadrant of the 2014 Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers. In...
- Improving Business Value of WAN Optimization
- Want to achieve faster ROI with WAN optimization? Read the latest IDC report and discover how you can cut IT costs without compromising...
- Four Little-Known Ways WAN Optimization Can Benefit Your Organization
- Read this white paper to learn how far WAN optimization has come, and how to make this most of your investments by using...
- IDC ROI Infographic
- Trends such as evolving communication patterns, connection types, applications and bandwidth can have an impact on enterprise organizations. Learn how IT organizations can... All Government IT White Papers
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- It's not too late...Get Your Mobile Questions Answered Live! How can IT provide seamless and secure mobile communications and collaboration for all? Join this live Webcast as IDG asks an expert panel...
- Why do you need an enterprise mobile platform? Today companies must offer great apps that run on a range of devices, and connect to an exploding set of backend data. Appcelerator...
- The Foundation You Need to Build a Better Storage Infrastructure Watch this webcast to hear how you can maximize the economics of your data center by modifying your storage footprint and power usage...
- Building Tomorrow's Data Center with Converged Technologies A number of forces are converging: the cloud, converged infrastructure, big data and fabric architectures to name a few.
- All Government IT Webcasts