Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said in a televised interview on Monday (Oct. 19) that antitrust laws “clearly apply” to Big Tech and should continue to apply to their market power.
“They have real impact — not only in economics, but in policy and democracy,” Delrahim told CNBC.
“Clearly antitrust has a role and needs to be applied,” Delrahim said. “But what is the other solution — [when] markets fail, Congress steps in and creates a regulatory framework like the FCC or FERC or others … and perhaps there’s a role for that.”
Delrahim also noted that actions by Twitter and Facebook create a lot of emotion, pointing to the decision by the platforms last week to restrict a New York Post article regarding Joe Biden’s son.
“And the question is, are these platforms…[are] these technology platforms [utilities] to convey information between you and me, or are they publishers with the same editorial standards as CBS…Wall Street Journal and NBC?” Delrahim said.
In terms of the possible merger between DirecTV and Dish, Delrahim was asked if he is confident if Dish will represent a real competitor nationwide eventually in 5G.
“I’m as confident as anybody can be. I think the commitments that Dish made as part of the divestiture package were real commitments,” Delrahim said.
Watchdogs with Justice’s antitrust arm recently told AT&T officials that a DirectTV and Dish combination would probably have to be delayed until the time that quicker 5G wireless service is more broadly accessible in rural places, The New York Post reported, citing unnamed sources.
The news comes as Reuters reported earlier in the month that Delrahim, who is the Justice Department’s leading enforcer of antitrust laws, is likely to leave his post early next calendar year regardless of the Nov. 3 presidential election outcome.
The official was confirmed to the position in September 2017 by the U.S. Senate following a delay of multiple months because of a move by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), The Boston Globe reported in August 2017.
Delrahim has degrees from Johns Hopkins University, George Washington University Law School and UCLA. In addition, Delrahim also taught law at Pepperdine University.