According to reports, the Federal Trade Commission plans to open a study into the technology industry’s data practices. Called a “6(b)” study, this type of study enables the agency to broadly review an industry practice and allows the agency to compel information from witnesses. Public Knowledge previously urged the FTC to conduct such a study and commends the move to shine a light on the competitive impacts of these data practices.
Today, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced a proposal to promote competition by making “big, structural changes to the tech sector -- including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.” Public Knowledge commends Sen. Warren for showing a serious commitment to addressing the competition concerns we see in digital platforms, and her recognition that structural regulation is crucial to promoting competition, innovation, and economic freedom on the internet.
It seems antitrust is finally having a new moment in the sun. From Attorney General Nominee Bill Barr to Senator Amy Klobuchar, to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to and even President Trump, everyone is talking about antitrust in the context of Internet platforms. While antitrust is a powerful tool and essential to the proper functioning of the economy, antitrust alone cannot eliminate the full array of harms caused by highly concentrated markets. The excessive market concentration and corporate power we see today resulted not only from conservative jurisprudence and lax antitrust enforcement but also excessive deregulation. Antitrust is not sufficient to rectify the very real problems reform advocates identify.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced a consent decree in the Staples-Essendant merger. Commissioners Slaughter and Chopra dissented, arguing the consent decree would be insufficient to address their competitive concerns with the merger.
Today, YouTube announced that it would begin reducing recommendations of “borderline content” -- materials that stop short of violating the company’s community guidelines but still may be harmful -- and content that could misinform users. According to YouTube, this would include “videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.”