GOP senator wants one agency to run tech probes

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Monday penned an op-ed criticizing the federal agencies in charge of antitrust enforcement for divvying up their probes of the country’s largest tech giants, saying only one agency should be in charge of investigating companies such as Facebook and Google.

Lee’s op-ed comes in response to reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will be opening up investigations into the tech companies, with the FTC in charge of overseeing Facebook and Amazon while the DOJ will take on Apple and Google.

“No industry should be free from antitrust scrutiny, including big tech,” Lee wrote in an article for the Washington Examiner. “But, splitting of this tech antitrust review across two federal agencies, despite the many similar competition issues that will be investigated, illustrates both the absurdity of having two federal agencies handling civil antitrust enforcement.”

“It also shows why these investigations are likely to be less effective and coherent than they should be,” he added.

Why Lee’s remarks matter: Lee is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee antitrust panel that would likely oversee any upper chamber investigation into big tech’s enormous market power and potential competition issues. He has previously expressed skepticism at the prospect of the Senate Judiciary Committee opening up any such investigation, though other senators on the committee have signaled a willingness to do so.

The Trump administration and Congress have stepped up antitrust investigations into companies such as Facebook and Google in recent weeks, with the House Judiciary Committee launching a wide-ranging antitrust probe of tech giants earlier this month and the federal agencies splitting up oversight.