Big Tech is bigger than ever, and it's rattling some nerves.
With concerns about data privacy and antitrust issues increasingly coming to the fore, lawmakers, regulators and the public are giving tech giants like Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com Inc. Report , Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Report , Facebook (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Report and Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report a harder look.
Europe's GDPR law is pushing stiffer restrictions regarding what tech companies can do with personal data, and privacy laws in the U.S. and elsewhere are also picking up steam. Data violations are drawing considerable financial penalties: In the U.S. for example, Facebook is reportedly negotiating a multibillion-dollar FTC fine related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In Europe, Alphabet was recently hit with a $57 million fine, the largest GDPR penalty since the regulation went into effect in 2018.
U.S. lawmakers are raising antitrust alarm bells. Recently, presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a plan to break up Big Tech and roll back some of the acquisitions that made the companies so dominant. Warren has said that her proposal, which targets Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook and even Apple, would better protect consumers and restore competition in the marketplace. Meanwhile, state attorneys general are also banding together to take action on antitrust enforcement in big tech.
Tech giants that operate marketplaces, including Amazon and Apple, are also increasingly held accountable for what critics say amounts to monopolistic behavior. Earlier in March, Spotify filed a lawsuit in Europe accusing Apple of unfairly boosting its own Apple Music service over competitors, such as Spotify. Apple is also facing a growing backlash to its App Store fees from major publishers like Netflix, and is involved in a class-action suit over the App Store that will be considered by the Supreme Court later this year.
Similarly, Amazon has been criticized for freezing out third-party merchants in its e-commerce marketplace. And suspicion towards the tech giant, which has its hands in cloud computing, groceries, health care, advertising, transportation and more -- came to the fore through its high-profile HQ2 search. Critics accused Amazon of fishing for billions in tax breaks, and it ultimately pulled out of New York City following the backlash.
How Much Money Will I Need to Retire?
Want to learn about retirement planning from some of the nation's top experts? Join TheStreet's Robert "Mr. Retirement" Powell live in New York on April 6 for our Retirement Strategies Symposium. For a limited time, tickets are available for $99 for this full-day event. Check out the agenda, learn about the speakers and sign up here.