Top Antitrust Lawmakers Push FTC to Hold Facebook Accountable

  • Judiciary panels urge agency to pursue antitrust allegations
  • Judge earlier dismissed FTC’s Facebook antitrust complaint

The Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittees are calling for the Federal Trade Commission to continue its effort to hold Facebook accountable for potential antitrust violations following a judge’s dismissal of the agency’s complaint this week.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), heads of the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel, and Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the leaders of the House Judiciary antitrust panel, wrote to FTC Chair Lina Khan urging her to pursue enforcement actions against Facebook Inc., according to the letter provided to Bloomberg Government.

(Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar

The letter, released Friday and dated July 1, comes after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on Monday dismissed complaints filed by both the FTC and more than 40 state attorneys general. Boasberg said the FTC failed to establish that Facebook has a monopoly in social networking. The FTC has 30 days to refile its complaint.

Facebook Wins Dismissal of U.S., States’ Monopoly Lawsuits

“It is essential that the Commission take action to deter anticompetitive conduct by digital monopolists by ensuring that they are held liable for antitrust violations to the full extent of the law,” the lawmakers wrote.

In her first meeting as chair of the agency, Khan and two other Democratic commissioners voted Thursday to rescind a 2015 Obama-era competition policy that limits how the FTC brings antitrust cases. The vote indicated Khan is planning an aggressive approach to regulating large companies, particularly tech companies, after assuming leadership of the agency last month.

Khan Starts Putting Her Stamp on FTC as Obama-Era Rule Rescinded

Khan previously served as counsel on Cicilline’s House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, and helped author a 450-page investigative staff report outlining anticompetitive practices by large tech companies, including Facebook. The full House Judiciary Committee advanced six antitrust bills last week that were written based on the report.

All-Night Antitrust Debate Moves Big Tech Bills Forward

The legislative pathway for reforming antitrust law remains murky, with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) saying this week the bills aren’t ready for House floor votes, and no Senate companion versions introduced for most of the bills.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at rkern@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Zachary Sherwood at zsherwood@bgov.com; Michaela Ross at mross@bgov.com

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