GAFA: the people are angry with the United States against the giants of the web

GAFA: la colère gronde aux États-Unis contre les géants du web

San Francisco | Monopoly, have little regard for the data… The people are angry for years against the giants of the web. It is rising faster in Europe, where it is translated by laws and fines, but in 2019 she won the United States, from the government to the courts through the Congress.

Review non exhaustive of the main procedures in progress against the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft).

Federal authority of competition

The agency responsible for the protection of consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), sharing with the ministry of Justice the role of the competition authority.

She leads the investigation for months to determine if the GAFAM abuse their dominant position to crush the competition.

In February, she told the five american giants to provide information and documents relating to their acquisitions since 2010.

Its president, Joseph Simmons, went so far as to consider “denouncing” of past agreements, if they have not correctly informed the authorities at the time of the transactions.

The agency also examines the takeovers of Instagram and WhatsApp by Facebook.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC would prohibit Facebook to enhance the interoperability between its different platforms (four networks and electronic bulletin boards frequented every month by about 3 billion people).

Last summer it was imposed on the group in california a record fine of 5 billion dollars for not having been able to protect the personal data of its users, followed by a fine of 170 million to YouTube (Google), for non-respect of the privacy of children.

Department of Justice

Washington launched a year ago a wide-ranging survey on the power of the GAFA, from social networks to online commerce.

The ministry of Justice wonders how these companies are rich in data of users, have managed to become as essential on the market.

It intends to determine if they have resorted to practices ” that have reduced competition, deterred innovation or affected by the consumer “.

The american law, as applied in recent years, requires, in order to authorize action against the companies, that their activities are clearly damaging to consumers, leading to a rise in prices, for example.

II 20 years ago, the department had failed to successfully dismantle Microsoft for abuse of dominant position.


The judicial commission of the House of Representatives announced in June 2019, a survey bipartite on competition in the digital marketplace.

She has interviewed business leaders, aggrieved by the GAFA, as the patron of the manufacturer of speakers Sonos, who sued Google for infringement of patents.

In September 2019, the commission claimed that Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple provide a series of documents to determine whether these companies had abused their dominant position.

The investigations of this parliamentary body can lead to more regulation.


Two major investigations of state, bringing together a multitude of prosecutors general of the two political sides have been launched in the last year.

The first, led by the attorney general of Texas since September, is interested in the advertising practices of Google and includes 50 prosecutors.

The second, which started in October at the initiative of the attorney general of the State of New York, focuses on the management of personal data of Facebook and its possible violations of the antitrust laws. It brings together 47 prosecutors.

According to the website Politico, California, which is not part of the investigation on Google, would have opened its own investigation on the number one of the search engines.

The California and Washington State (north-west), where are located the headquarters of the GAFA, investigate also on the treatment of third party sellers through Amazon, according to the New York Times.

While the United States still have not adopted the federal act on the data, the state of California guarantees from this year to its inhabitants certain rights over their collection and use.


The Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in the country, has the power to decide the merit of the actions brought against the GAFA. In may 2019, it has thus held that Apple could be sued for the inflated prices of apps on its online store.

The pillars of the Internet are also facing numerous legal proceedings in local courts. On Thursday, Facebook agreed to pay $ 650 million to end a lawsuit in Illinois on the use of its facial recognition software.

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