Trump drops the biggest hint yet that he's coming after the big tech 'monopoly' with potential billion-dollar fines

Tech v Trump (Jake Kanter's thumb - please do not use)BI Graphics/Skye Gould

  • US President Donald Trump just dropped a huge hint that he is ready to pursue antitrust proceedings against tech firms like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google.
  • "There is something going on in terms of monopoly," Trump told CNBC on Monday morning, adding that Attorney General William Barr is looking into the matter.
  • Trump pointed to fines handed out by the European Union to firms like Google and said: "We should be doing that, they're our companies."
  • It follows widespread reports last week that the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have carved up oversight of the tech firms.
  • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

Donald Trump has dropped the biggest hint yet that his administration is going to pursue antitrust proceedings against some of the largest tech companies in America.

In a phone interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box," the US president said he's alive to the fact that companies including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google could constitute a monopoly.

"There is something going on in terms of monopoly," Trump said on Monday morning.

It follows widespread reports last week that the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice have carved up oversight of the tech firms, with a view to potentially pursuing antitrust investigations.

The FTC has the power to look into Amazon and Facebook, which it is already examining over the giant Cambridge Analytica data breach last year. The DOJ, meanwhile, has jurisdiction over Apple and Google, with a source telling Business Insider last week that it is already looking into the latter.

He said the European Union is "suing them all the time" in reference to a string of antitrust rulings by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, which have resulted in fines of up to $5 billion for Google. "They get all this money," he said of the EU. "Well, we should be doing that, they're our companies."

Read more: Big tech's giant power could be challenged in blockbuster antitrust probes - here's what that means for Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google

Trump indicated, however, that the US may take a different tact to the EU. "We're going to maybe look at it differently. We have a great attorney general, we're going to look at it differently," Trump said in reference to William Barr.

He did not elaborate further on how the US might tackle the tech monopoly, what form any investigations might take, and what kind of fines may be handed out if there is evidence of wrongdoing.

Trump also returned to his well-trodden argument on big tech: that firms such as Google have a liberal bias which does not favor his administration. "I can tell you they discriminate against me," the president said.

He added: "The real collusion is between the Democrats and these companies because they were so against me during my election run. Everybody said if you don't have them, you can't win. Well I won, and I'll win again because we're doing well and we're not the fools anymore."

His view is shared by many Republicans, meaning he has support from some in his party to go after the likes of Google and Facebook. There is also political appetite on the left for antitrust proceedings, with Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren notably calling for a breakup of Silicon Valley's biggest companies.

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