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Antitrust Review of Big Tech Companies Urged by Steven Mnuchin

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(Bloomberg) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged the Justice Department to review the power that large technology firms such as Google have over the U.S. economy.

A “60 Minutes” segment on Sunday devoted to assertions that Alphabet Inc.’s Google wields a destructive monopoly in online search hammered home the notion of the company’s dominance during a time of heightened public concern with technology giants. The report didn’t include new allegations about the company.

“These issues deserve to be reviewed carefully,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview early Monday in response to a question about the CBS News report. “These are issues the Justice Department needs to look at seriously, not for any one company, but as these technology companies have a greater and greater impact on the economy.”

The report highlighted how critics and rivals, such as Yelp Inc., are trying to bring Europe’s antitrust approach to Google to the U.S. Margrethe Vestager, the European Union competition commissioner, told CBS that she is intent on stopping Google’s “illegal behavior” in web search, suggesting that the regulator isn’t appeased by the company’s proposed solution for the hefty charges the EU filed last year.

“You have to look at the power they have and it’s something the Justice Department I hope takes a serious look at,” Mnuchin said, though he added that “issues of monopolies are out of my lane” and that it’s up to the Justice Department to review antitrust violations.

CBS featured guests who argued Google abuses its dominance in search and search advertising. It didn’t show any evidence that U.S. lawmakers or enforcement agencies will target the company, according to a transcript. Nor did the segment mention the potential cases Vestager is pursuing against Google for its Android mobile software and advertising business.

–With assistance from Kasia Klimasinska and Mark Bergen.

To contact the reporters on this story: Saleha Mohsin in Washington at smohsin2@bloomberg.net;Elizabeth Wasserman in Washington at ewasserman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Brendan Murray, Scott Lanman

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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