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Economy & Business

Bipartisan Group of House Lawmakers Demands Internal Documents from Top Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google Executives

Amazon boxes stacked for delivery in New York City, N.Y., January 29, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

A bipartisan coalition of House lawmakers has called on Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to turn over a cache of sensitive documents, including the internal communications of their top executives, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The request was issued by Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee as part of a sweeping anti-trust probe into the nation’s largest tech firms that began in June.

In addition to internal communications, the panel requested financial data, records related to prospective merger and acquisition targets, and all documents related to “any prior investigation” into anti-competitive activity.

Lawmakers hope the trove of documents will provide insight into whether the company’s respective business models — which rely on varying combinations of search, e-commerce, and advertising — unlawfully limit competition and discourage innovation.

“The open Internet has delivered enormous benefits to Americans, including a surge of economic opportunity, massive investment, and new pathways for education online,” Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “But there is growing evidence that a handful of corporations have come to capture an outsized share of online commerce and communications.”

Representative Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the panel, suggested the documents will help further an investigation that may result in the rewriting of anti-trust law to accommodate modern economic realities.

“This information is key in helping determine whether anticompetitive behavior is occurring, whether our antitrust enforcement agencies should investigate specific issues and whether or not our antitrust laws need improvement to better promote competition in the digital markets,” Collins said in a statement.

On Monday, attorneys general representing 48 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico announced a broad investigation into whether Google’s domination of the online-advertising market harms consumers. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, who will help lead the probe with eight fellow attorneys general, accused Google of “dominat[ing] all aspects of advertising on the Internet and searching on the Internet,” in announcing the broad investigation.

Paxton’s announcement came just one week after eleven attorneys general announced a similar investigation into Facebook.

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