The US Department of Justice Antitrust Division has been on a hiring spree amid investigations into Silicon Valley tech giants, according to Reuters, citing two DOJ officials with knowledge of the matter.
The department is scheduled to post an advertisement for positions, potentially on Monday, for additional attorneys, paralegals with an interest in tech and others to work in San Francisco to focus on the tech industry, one of the sources said.
A job posting for five people for two-year Washington positions that dates from November specifies that the attorneys hired will work on a broad investigation of major digital technology firms into whether they engage in anticompetitive practices. The posting includes a link to the agency’s press release announcing the probes. -Reuters
Companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google are facing a litany of antitrust probes by the US government, along with Congressional investigators and state attorneys general.
"We have capacity to take on a good number of folks," said the source, who added that the number of new hires in the antitrust division will depend on the caliber of applicants.
The division works in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to analyze mergers to ensure they are legal, as well as accusations of price-fixing.
In July, the Wall Street Journal reported that the DOJ was opening a broad antitrust review into whether dominant technology firms are unlawfully stifling competition.
The review is reportedly centered around examining the practices of online platforms that dominate internet search, social media and retail services; the report notes that the new antitrust inquiry is "the strongest signal yet of Attorney General William Barr’s deep interest in the tech sector, and it could ratchet up the already considerable regulatory pressures facing the top U.S. tech firms."
The agency is also reportedly looking into how the most dominant tech firms have grown in size and might—and expanded their reach into additional businesses, as well as weather big tech firms have abused the power that comes with having such large networks of users.
The DOJ's Antitrust Division began 2019 with a staff of approximately 622, which dropped to around 600 over the course of last year due to a hiring freeze which has recently been lifted. In the past six months, 86 employees have been hired - including an unspecified number of attorneys, paralegals and others.