FTC Defining Its Authority To Govern Big Tech


The Federal Trade Commission is in the process of defining how U.S. antitrust laws apply to big tech so it can better police anti-competitive behavior, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday (Sept. 12).

The FTC wants to uncover any regulatory gaps or limitations in the law that might hamper its ability to govern technology companies.

“The executive and legislative branch may find this document helpful as each considers whether new laws or new regulations” are needed, Bilal Sayyed, director of the FTC’s office of policy planning, said in a speech at Georgetown University Law Center, the WSJ reported.

The clamor to regulate big tech doesn’t consider the “strength” and “vitality” of federal antitrust law’s capacity to incorporate new economic concepts, Sayyed said in his speech.

Nationwide big tech scrutiny is a bipartisan issue, with numerous regulatory investigations launched about privacy, security and competition. FTC chief Joe Simons said he would be willing to break up tech companies if necessary.

The FTC is currently investigating whether Facebook and other large tech companies are harming competition by buying smaller tech companies and merging with them. Simons said he knows breaking up the companies would be challenging, but he would do it if it were the right way to bring back a healthy level of competition.

Simons is leading a team to look at how the industry conducts itself — and to see if the mergers were anti-competitive. The company’s current investigation is into whether Facebook intentionally tried to thwart competition.

In July, the FTC announced a broad probe into Facebook that would include looking into social media, mobile applications and digital advertising practices. It will also look at what would’ve happened to a company like Instagram if it were not acquired by Facebook.


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