The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
F.T.C. Is Said to Be Considering Large Facebook Fines. The Federal Trade Commission is in the advanced stages of its investigation into whether Facebook violated privacy rules and is expected to seek large fines from the company, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. The five members of the commission met in mid-December to discuss the investigation, according to the people, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is not public. The meeting is a sign that the investigation is far along, the people said, because the commissioners rarely meet in the early stages of an inquiry.
Trump AG pick concerned by Silicon Valley ‘behemoths.’ President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general, William Barr, told lawmakers on Tuesday that he would focus attention on the “huge behemoths” in Silicon Valley at the center of a debate over antitrust enforcement. Barr noted at his confirmation hearing that companies can grow to monopolies without breaking antitrust law. “I don’t think big is necessarily bad,” he told Senator Mike Lee. “But I think a lot of people wonder how such huge behemoths that now exist in Silicon Valley have taken shape under the nose of the antitrust enforcers….I want to find out more about that dynamic.”
EU antitrust regulators to block Siemens, Alstom rail merger – sources. EU antitrust regulators will block Siemens and Alstom’s plan to create a Franco-German rail champion, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, after Siemens refused to improve its concession related to its high-speed train technology. The companies’ concessions also failed to address concerns regarding rolling stock and signaling. The European Commission is likely to issue its veto on Feb. 6, ahead of its Feb. 18 deadline, a source said.
German antitrust watchdog to act against Facebook: report. Germany’s antitrust watchdog plans to order Facebook to stop gathering some user data, a newspaper reported. The Federal Cartel Office, which has been investigating Facebook since 2015, has already found that the social media giant abused its market dominance to gather data on people without their knowledge or consent. The Bild am Sonntag newspaper said the watchdog will present the U.S. company with its ruling on what action it needs to take in the next few weeks.