The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
House panel passes bill targeting OPEC oil supply cuts. A U.S. House of Representatives committee approved a bill on Thursday that would open up the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to antitrust lawsuits, but it was uncertain if the measure would be considered by the full chamber. A U.S. House of Representatives committee approved a bill on Thursday that would open up the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to antitrust lawsuits, but it was uncertain if the measure would be considered by the full chamber. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate on Thursday by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a proponent of ethanol, a corn-based motor fuel.
Germany Restricts Facebook’s Data Gathering. In a direct challenge to Facebook’s business model, Germany’s competition authority on Thursday sharply curtailed how the tech giant may profile people, saying that users could refuse to allow the company to combine their Facebook information with data about their activities on other sites. The agency, in a novel antitrust argument, said that the company had exploited its dominant position in the German market by coercing people into giving up their personal data. The social network’s terms of service, regulators said, had unfairly forced people to make an all-or-nothing choice — between submitting to unlimited data collection by the company or not using Facebook at all. The practice has enabled the Silicon Valley company to collect data about its users’ activities on millions of non-Facebook sites, personal details that helped make the social network a worldwide powerhouse of personalized advertising.
T-Mobile pledges three-year price clampdown if merger is approved. T-Mobile US Inc. told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday it would not increase prices for three years, with few exceptions, if it gets approval to buy rival Sprint Corp for $26 billion. In a letter to the FCC, T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere asked the government to move forward “expeditiously” in reviewing the merger of the No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers, and attempted to allay fears the deal would mean higher prices. “While we are combining our networks over the next three years, T-Mobile today is submitting to the commission a commitment that I stand behind — a commitment that new T-Mobile will make available the same or better rate plans for our services as those offered today by T-Mobile or Sprint,” Legere wrote in the letter.
Germany to seek antitrust reform in 2020 EU presidency: source. Germany will seek to reform competition law during its European Union presidency in 2020, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday, hours after antitrust regulators blocked a rail deal between Siemens and Alstom. The European Commission said the deal would have hurt competition and led to higher prices for consumers, dismissing the companies’ argument that it would help them better compete against Chinese rival CRRC. Following the EU veto, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said that Europe should look at changing its rules to facilitate cross-border mergers and create European champions which can compete with rivals from China and the United States.