U.S. lawmaker says small tech firms fear retaliation if they aid antitrust probe

FILE PHOTO: The logos of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google in a combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS/File Photos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Small tech companies fear retaliation from big tech firms like Google and Facebook Inc if they assist in an investigation into allegations the companies misuse their massive market power, the head of the U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee leading the probe said on Thursday.

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into competition in digital markets early this month shortly after sources said the U.S. executive branch was gearing up for what could be an unprecedented, wide-ranging investigation of Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat and a top antitrust lawmaker, said on Thursday that many of the small digital companies are reliant on the giants for access to consumers, saying that relationship “makes them concerned about raising their voice, raising concerns about the monopoly power of these platforms.”

“If you look at the size of some of the large platforms, their ability to exclude people from the platform can result in closing the business,” Cicilline told reporters.

“That’s sort of the most dangerous consequence of this kind of concentration is the ability to exclude rivals, put them out of business, diminish innovation, diminish entrepreneurship, diminish choices for consumers,” he said.

Cicilline also said that he had reached out to most of the major technology platforms -- he did not specify which -- and was told that they planned to participate in the congressional probe.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Jonathan Oatis