President Trump is about to hit America's tech giants with federal antitrust probes, if a newly leaked document holds any water—and it may not hold any water at all, the Washington Post reports. Revealed Friday by Bloomberg, the draft executive order would empower federal agencies to investigate Google, Facebook, and other tech companies for anti-competitive behavior and "online platform bias." (See the full document at Business Insider.) But White House aides say don't know who wrote the draft order or even where it originated. "This document is not the result of an official White House policy-making process," explains Lindsay Walters, the deputy White House press secretary, in part.
Worse, it seems top White House technology advisers first saw the document in an email from Yelp, and two White House aides first saw it when contacted by Luther Lowe, Yelp's senior vice president. So did Lowe write it? "Yelp has been consistently critical of Google for actual bias in search results—in local search, for their own competitive benefit," says Lowe in a statement that echoes Yelp's ongoing criticism of Google but doesn't address the question. Meanwhile, tech companies have nervously awaited a possible federal crackdown as top Republicans, including Trump, accuse Silicon Valley firms of censoring conservative voices. Jeff Sessions plans to meet state attorneys general about the issue on Sept. 25; maybe we'll know more then. (Read more Silicon Valley stories.)