The US Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday defended its antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft before a House of Representatives panel of politicians.
While the representatives asked questions on the ongoing federal investigation, DoJ Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein said he is pleased by the support he had received from committee members. "We are considering a variety of options," he said. "Other people may try to speculate or spin us, but we are going to do our job."
US Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde added: "Everyone would benefit from a toning down of the rhetoric and a greater faith in the court system to come to the right resolution."
Hyde also said that antitrust legislation, which was written more than a hundred years ago, continues to apply today. "The fundamentals of economics and human behaviour have not changed since the 1890s and that antitrust law remains a viable tool."
However, John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, questioned Microsoft's lobbying and the political pressure on the antitrust division. "We hope that there will not be those that will be using this case as a fund-raising cash cow or attempt to intimidate the department's law-enforcement efforts," he said.
George Gekas, a representative from Pennsylvania, asked Klein for proof of consumer complaints leading to the DoJ's investigation of Microsoft. Klein replied that while he could not make known the confidentiality of those who came forward, the DoJ lawsuit is based on a "lengthy investigation".
Klein pointed out that complaints alone do not lead to an antitrust investigation. "Right before the Microsoft antitrust case, we conducted a lengthy investigation of Microsoft's Internet Service and chose not to pursue that."
He also said the US states that brought the action against Microsoft could produce an independent proposal. "The view of the states on potential remedies are not always identical to ours," he said.
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