ANTITRUST

FTC Chair Hints At Multiple Big Tech Probes In Progress

FTC Head Says Agency Is Investigating Multiple Tech Companies

Chairman Joe Simons of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Monday (Nov. 18) that there were multiple ongoing investigations into Big Tech companies like Google, Amazon and Apple regarding their conduct on antitrust and merger issues, according to ReutersThe FTC had previously announced an investigation into Facebook and Amazon.

Big Tech companies face probes from many different government agencies, including a group of state attorneys general, the Department of Justice and the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee. Simons said the FTC’s Technology Enforcement Division (TED) was looking retroactively at mergers that were previously approved.

“We can say publicly that they’re investigating Facebook because Facebook disclosed that,” he said. “I also want to say that TED has, in addition to Facebook, multiple other investigations going on into major platforms.”

Simons did not specifically identify which organizations were being probed. 

Beyond U.S. shores, Nippon.com reported that a Japanese government panel reaffirmed a plan last week to put tougher regulations in place that would govern online shopping platforms run by Big Tech firms. The site reported that the “future investment panel,” chaired by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, said companies that should be examined include Amazon, Z Holdings (formerly Yahoo! Japan Corporation) and Rakuten.

Under the terms of the proposed regulations, the firms would be required to disclose how they decide search result rankings, as well as report their operational status. Further details will be worked out next year, according to reports. Under scrutiny, too, is the alleged practice of companies paying fees to the firms to have their products ranked higher than would otherwise be seen.

In the cryptocurrency arena, Director Kenneth Blanco of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said on Friday (Nov. 15) that there will be strict implementation of new regulations that will force crypto exchanges, marketplaces and digital wallets to identify their customers. That identification will take place above a certain monetary threshold.

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