Listen: Facebook, Amazon, Congress discussed on GeekWire - Geared Up
"Just go to Amazon DOT COM and say all right. What's doing well here? You know you'd have to think that the engines a little more sophisticated than that but we don't know so the backdrop for this was a couple other related news stories first one was involving wing facebook which was also part of this hearing the F._T._C. issued a five billion dollar fine against facebook that had been long anticipated in. I read the stories about this in the reaction from a lot of the lawmakers and many any of them seemed unsatisfied by that fine against facebook which was just sort of a drop in the bucket for that company did that dissatisfaction or lack of satisfaction impact of the mood and did you see that play out at all even in subtle ways. I think that it set the tone and it really reflects the fact that we're in a very unique moment because this five billion dollar fine is the biggest that the federal government has levied against a tech company so that's that's a big deal and yet it was received as a a drop in the bucket a slap slap on the wrist as something that was not going to be significant enough to cause facebook to meaningfully change its behavior around privacy and with that says to me is number one. The prophets of these companies are just mind boggling because they they can be making so much money that five a billion dollars won't make them change their behavior and the other is that there is a big appetite among some members of Congress to rein in this industry now. There's not a lot of agreement about how to do that but clearly this fine and this hearing show that they are not satisfied with the current regulatory tools that are in their toolkit that allow them to exercise some control over this industry. That's become so powerful now. That's interesting because I know that one way that regulators legislators can go after companies on on antitrust on antitrust grounds is by showing that they had an impact on prices in other words. They're using monopoly position to raise prices for consumers of course that's not the case with Amazon if anything they're using a strong strong position in the market to to lower prices and but then to in the process go after competitors like main street retailers whether or not they say explicitly that they're doing that obviously one impact of Amazon and its overall strength and you could say the same thing for Walmart. Frankly I see this in my hometown in northern California big companies that come in with huge price advantages in economies of scale can have a massive impact on the market and yet that wouldn't be the traditional antitrust argument that because they're not raising prices so why doesn't Congress change the law well. It's a good question. Congress has a pretty easy time changing laws right now. Though that's. uh-huh you're being sarcastic. Sarcasm go ahead now. Congress can't can't make a lot of save its life but I think that's a really important point and that's why experts say that while there's a lot of noise right now it's not likely that we will see an antitrust case because these none of these companies fit into the traditional mold that you would need them to fit into in order to prosecute successfully our laws are very focused on consumer prices and Google and facebook their free of quote unquote. You know that the true cost another podcast but their services that they offered to consumers are free Amazon. There's no evidence that they're using their dominance to raise. Prices and apple is kind of in its own world over here but they didn't get very any questions yeah well. I can imagine they didn't because they like Microsoft have been able to put themselves in a bit of a higher position not not quite holier than thou but at least a position where they are saying we're acting on principle and <unk> any problems you have with us are just your problems with our principal right. They did get some questions about the APP store. which is the one area where there is some question of whether there are meaningful competitors but anyway to answer your original question?."