FTC chase Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into past acquisitions made by major tech companies, the agency announced in a press release Tuesday.

The FTC said it had sent orders to Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, asking for “information about prior acquisitions not reported to the antitrust agencies” the companies may have made over the past decade, a number FTC chairman Joe Simons told reporters is in the “hundreds.”

“This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers,” Simons said in the statement.

While the inquiry is not a formal law enforcement action, Simons said that “all options are on the table” and, depending on what the FTC discovers, it could look at forcing the companies to unwind past deals or change their business practices. It may also consider updating the reporting requirements for acquisitions.

The announcement comes as major tech companies are already facing a variety of antitrust probes from regulators in both the US and in Europe looking into whether the firms are unfairly undermining competition. The investigations are looking into everything from Google’s advertising business to Amazon Web Services to Facebook’s handling of consumer data and privacy issues.

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