Donald Trump on tech antitrust: ‘There’s one thing happening’

In an interview with CInternet on Monday, President Donald Trump criticized the antitrust fines imposed by the European Union on United States tech companies, suggesting that these tech giants could, in fact, be monopolies, but the US should be the political body raking in the settlement fines.

“Every week you see them going after Facebook and Apple and all of these companies … The European Union is suing them all of the time,” Trump said. “Well, we should be doing this. They’re our companies. So, [the EU is] actually attacking our companies, but we should be doing what they’re doing. They think there’s a monopoly, but I’m not sure that they think that. They just think this is easy money.”

It’s unclear whether Trump actually wants to impose similar fines or was only critiquing the EU’s moves. “We have a great attorney general,” he said later in the interview. “We’re going to look at it differently.”

Over the past few years, the EU has fined some of the US’s largest tech companies for behaving anti-competitively. Just last summer, Google was fined a record $5 billion for violating antitrust law with the company’s Android operating system product. Facebook has also been subject to a handful of privacy investigations in both the US and abroad following 2018’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Responding to the question of whether tech giants like Google and Facebook were monopolies, Trump said, “I think it’s a bad situation, but obviously there’s something going on in terms of monopoly.”

Trump was also asked about the administration’s moves to ban Chinese device and telecom infrastructure manufacturer Huawei and whether he believed the company to be a national security threat or was using the ban as leverage to negotiate a trade deal.

“I do see it as a threat,” he said on Huawei. “At the same time, it could be very well that we do something with respect to Huawei as part of our trade negotiation with China.” Trump has been making this argument for the past few weeks, suggesting that the Huawei ban was only implemented to persuade China into a trade deal.

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