U.S. antitrust officials can continue their case to break up Meta, Facebook’s parent company, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the social media giant, which had argued the complaint should be dismissed. The decision allows federal prosecutors to try to prove their allegations that Meta has illegally abused a monopoly in the marketplace for social media — and that its subsidiaries Instagram and WhatsApp should be spun off.
The Federal Trade Commission is pushing forward with antitrust scrutiny of Amazon’s cloud computing business, according to people familiar with the matter. Lina Khan, the head of the agency and a vocal critic of the online retailer, is advancing a probe started several years ago by her predecessor.
Democrats in Congress are taking aim at the pending $43 billion merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, pushing the Justice Department to scrutinize the transaction on antitrust grounds. In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Justice Department antitrust chief Jonathan Kanter, the legislators assert that too much consolidation in media will hurt competition in Hollywood’s labor market and result in less diversity overall in content.
The Biden administration made a statement earlier this month when the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the $2.1 billion sale of Simon & Schuster. Merrick Garland’s body block of the deal that ViacomCBS struck with Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House sends the message that the White House is paying attention to the pace of consolidation in media and entertainment. If the antitrust division is worried about too much concentration among owners of the oldest of mass media platforms — books — just think how the Attorney General’s watchdogs would view nuptials among two major studios or more big-name broadcast and cable assets.
The bipartisan vote Tuesday was 68-29 to confirm Jonathan Kanter, an antitrust lawyer who has opposed tech giants in private practice, as assistant attorney general heading the Justice Department’s antitrust division. The position has been without a permanent head for nearly a year as Biden and his advisers sifted through a number of qualified candidates and then nominated Kanter in July to face Senate vetting.
The suit, filed by the now defunct photo start-up Phhhoto, accused the social network of stalling on a deal and then putting it out of business.
Documents collected by whistleblower Frances Haugen could give the company “a lot to regret” in its fights to prove it’s not a monopoly.
How Jonathan Kanter, the Biden administration’s choice to be the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, became a progressive foe of Big Tech.
An auction of the Tegna TV station empire has been thrown into doubt as the company has questioned whether a prospective sale to a leading bidder would face antitrust concerns from U.S. regulators.
Australia’s antitrust watchdog is calling for powers to curb Google’s use of internet data to sell targeted ads, joining other regulators in saying the firm dominates the market to the point of hurting publishers, advertisers and consumers.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who oversees the agency’s antitrust division, said the Justice Department will not shy away from enforcing antitrust laws against so-called killer acquisitions, where dominant firms buy start-ups before they can become competitive threats. Acquisitions of nascent competitors, she said, “are one category of particularly concerning transactions because they undermine competition that can disrupt monopolies.”
The moves may result in a second antitrust lawsuit against Google before the end of the year.
Last year, Facebook Inc. did something U.S. technology giants have done countless times before: It bought a smaller company and closed the deal without notifying competition regulators. But this transaction — the $400 million acquisition of image library Giphy Inc. — was particularly bold. At the time, Facebook was under investigation by antitrust enforcers for what the government says was an illegal practice of buying companies in order to eliminate them as potential threats to its monopoly power. Maneuvers like Giphy’s make policing deals all the more challenging at a time when authorities are being called on to take more aggressive steps to curb the growth of dominant companies, especially in the technology industry.
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday filed a revised, and significantly lengthier, antitrust complaint against Facebook, in an attempt to persuade a federal judge to allow the prosecution to proceed. Facebook “unlawfully acquired innovative competitors with popular mobile features that succeeded where Facebook’s own offerings fell flat or fell apart,” the agency stated Thursday in a post summarizing its new complaint.
The Federal Trade Commission this week is expected to lay out its new legal strategy in an ongoing antitrust battle with Facebook that will also reveal how FTC chief Lina Khan plans to take on the market power of U.S. tech giants. The FTC has until Thursday to disclose whether it plans to proceed with the case after a major courtroom setback earlier this year. The agency is largely expected to move forward, and is likely to do so by filing an amended complaint.
The president has stacked his administration with crusaders who have spent their careers challenging corporate consolidation.
President Biden plans to appoint lawyer Jonathan Kanter as the head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division, the White House announced Tuesday, another sign of the administration’s intention to take on Big Tech. Kanter has been a favorite pick of progressive organizations pushing for the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission to do more to crack down on anticompetitive conduct, especially in the tech industry.
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday voted to expand the regulatory agency’s enforcement powers, a signal of Democratic commissioners’ willingness to crack down on alleged anti-competitive behavior. The Democratic-controlled commission voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal a 2015 policy statement that blocked the regulatory agency from challenging “unfair methods of competition” that don’t violate existing antitrust laws.
Amazon formally asked the Federal Trade Commission to block recently appointed agency chair Lina Khan — an outspoken critic of Amazon and other tech giants — from participating in antitrust reviews involving the company because she has shown a demonstrable bias against Amazon. Amazon on Wednesday filed a motion with the FTC requesting Khan’s recusal.
When the Judiciary Committee began approving a suite of bills on Wednesday, fault lines were exposed that could make final passage difficult.
Executives, lobbyists, and more than a dozen groups paid by Big Tech have tried to head off bipartisan support for six bills meant to undo the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
A bipartisan group of House members introduced five bills targeting Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
President Biden still hasn’t named permanent leaders at the key agencies overseeing the tech and telecom industries, giving him a late start on confronting powerful U.S. companies. If Biden doesn’t move quickly, there won’t be enough time left for his administration to take on big targets and tackle thorny policy problems.
Facebook and Google lead the media industry as companies being most heavily targeted by the FTC, Congress and even the Biden Administration. The central question at the heart of scores of lawsuits files in the past year: Have companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft become too powerful, and do they exercise anticompetitive practices?
The House Judiciary Committee lhas formally approved a report on monopoly power in digital marketplaces. The over 400-page document depicting ways that Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook allegedly abuse their market power was approved on a 24-17 party-line vote.
While antitrust lawsuits and Capitol Hill hearings get headlines, Big Tech’s biggest threat in Washington may come from the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is gearing up to flex its muscle, by both enforcing current rules and trying to draft new ones. And it may be able do so relatively quickly.
NAB President Gordon Smith says the organization is shifting into offense with the new Democrat-led FCC, pairing with newspaper publishers for an antitrust exemption in dealing with Big Tech along with pressing for a relaxation of antiquated TV ownership rules. Note: This story is available to TVNewsCheck Premium members only. If you would like to upgrade your free TVNewsCheck membership to Premium now, you can visit your Member Home Page, available when you log in at the very top right corner of the site or in the Stay Connected Box that appears in the right column of virtually every page on the site. If you don’t see Member Home, you will need to click Log In or Subscribe.
Lawmakers on Friday debated an antitrust bill that would give news publishers collective bargaining power with online platforms like Facebook and Google, putting the spotlight on a proposal aimed at chipping away at the power of Big Tech. At a hearing held by the House antitrust subcommittee, Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, emerged as a leading industry voice in favor of the law. He took a divergent path from his tech counterparts, pointing to an imbalance in power between publishers and tech platforms.
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland said Monday that he will be a strong enforcer of antitrust law as “the charter of American economic liberty” and expects to need more resources to do so. He was testifying at his Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing.
The House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee plans to hold a series of hearings on proposed bills to rein in “the rise and abuse of market power online” and adjust antitrust laws accordingly. Both Republicans and Democrats have concerns that antitrust laws were not nimble enough to capture Web giants’ efforts to buy start-up competitors before they became full-fledged competition and, importantly for antitrust law, before they triggered Hart Scott Rodino automatic antitrust reviews.
The incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee favors broad changes as Democrats press the issue of perceived monopoly power.
“There is no longer a competitive market in which newspapers can fairly compete for online advertising revenue,” the owner of The Charleston Gazette-Mail and other West Virginia news publications said in a lawsuit in federal court on Friday. It accuses the companies of profiting from “anticompetitive and monopolistic practices” that have damaged the newspaper business.
The social media company joins the antitrust effort against the iPhone maker, claiming that changes to the iOS that block targeted advertising that Facebook specializes in is an assault on small businesses.
The filings from more than 40 attorneys general and the U.S. government will allege the tech giant engaged in unlawful tactics to buy or kill off its rivals and solidify its dominance in social networking.
A looming vacancy on the Federal Trade Commission has created a dilemma for the agency as it decides how to pursue its expected antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, contributing to a delay in the launch of the case, three people familiar with the discussions said. While the five commissioners had been expected to file the suit by the end of this month, the agency’s commissioners are now grappling with the prospect that Republican Chairman Joseph Simons’ likely departure before the next administration could lead to 2-2 splits in future votes.
The Federal Trade Commission’s staff have made a recommendation to the agency’s commissioners on whether to file an antitrust complaint against Facebook, three people familiar with the agency’s probe said Thursday — a potential new milestone in Washington’s fight to rein in Silicon Valley. The FTC’s five commissioners met to discuss a potential case Thursday afternoon, though a final decision isn’t expected for several weeks.
The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are seeking comment on a couple of proposed changes to the automatic Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) antitrust reviews, which are required of large mergers (ones valued at at least $94 million). The FTC and DOJ divide up antitrust reviews, with DOJ generally handling the media merger reviews.