Op-Eds & Articles

We’re getting closer to stopping tech giants like Apple from abusing their power

Of the big four tech giants, Facebook, Google and Amazon have been taking heat for abusing their market power, while Apple has been flying under the radar. That’s because Apple’s business model, unlike that of Facebook and Google, doesn’t depend on closely tracking your data, and it has been more restrained than Amazon in the number of markets it muscles into. But thanks to a US Supreme Court decision on Monday, Apple is finally getting the attention it deserves.

May 15, 2019  |  by Sally Hubbard
Read on CNN Business

Of the big four tech giants, Facebook, Google and Amazon have been taking heat for abusing their market power, while Apple has been flying under the radar. That’s because Apple’s business model, unlike that of Facebook and Google, doesn’t depend on closely tracking your data, and it has been more restrained than Amazon in the number of markets it muscles into. But thanks to a US Supreme Court decision on Monday, Apple is finally getting the attention it deserves.

In Apple v. Pepper, the Court ruled that consumers have the right to sue Apple for charging them a 30% commission on every app sale. The plaintiffs are consumers who argued that Apple used its monopoly power to charge them more for their iPhone apps than they would have paid in a competitive market. Apple argued consumers can only sue the company that sets the retail price for antitrust damages.
The Court ruled against Apple, saying the company’s theory would “furnish monopolistic retailers with a how-to guide for evasion of the antitrust laws.” The court did not rule that Apple is liable for monopolization — that issue was not before it — but it did clear the way for the case to proceed.
The decision is a victory for consumers, who will at least get their day in court, but it’s a loss for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, which shockingly had filed an amicus brief critical of the lower court’s decision to allow the consumers’ case to go forward. That a federal agency charged with enforcing antitrust laws supported limiting consumers’ right to sue shows how far off the rails antitrust enforcement has gone. Several state attorneys general and my organization, the Open Markets Institute, had filed briefs in favor of the plaintiffs.

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In America today, wealth and political power are more concentrated than at any point in our country’s history.

The Open Markets Institute, formerly the Open Markets program at New America, was founded to protect liberty and democracy from these extreme -- and growing -- concentrations of private power.

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