The Antitrust Week In Review
Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.
Apple to face EU antitrust charge over NFC chip – sources. Apple will be hit with an EU antitrust charge over its NFC chip technology, people familiar with the matter said, a move that puts it at risk of a possible hefty fine and could force it to open its mobile payment system to rivals. The iPhone maker has been in European Union antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s crosshairs since June last year when she launched an investigation into Apple Pay. Preliminary concerns were Apple’s NFC chip which enables tap-and-go payments on iPhones, its terms and conditions on how mobile payment service Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites, and the company’s refusal to allow rivals access to the payment system. The European Commission has since narrowed its focus to just the NFC chip, which can only be accessed by Apple Pay for in-store payments, one of the sources said.
Facebook again asks judge to dismiss U.S. lawsuit to force sale of Instagram, WhatsApp. Facebook Inc asked a judge on Monday to dismiss the U.S. government’s revised antitrust case that seeks to force the social media giant to sell Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook said in a court filing that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had failed to provide a “plausible factual basis for branding Facebook an unlawful monopolist.” The company added it appears the FTC “had no basis for its naked allegation that Facebook has or had a monopoly.” The social media giant asked that the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice, which would make it harder for the agency to amend the lawsuit. The FTC declined to comment. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in June that the FTC’s original complaint filed in December failed to provide evidence that Facebook had monopoly power in the social-networking market. The FTC’s amended complaint, filed in August, added more detail on its accusation the social media company crushed or bought rivals and again asked Boasberg to order the sale of Instagram and WhatsApp.
U.S. Justice Dept antitrust nominee says he is eager to tackle more than just Big Tech. Jonathan Kanter, the third of three progressives named to top U.S. antitrust posts by President Joe Biden, pledged on Wednesday to enforce antitrust law in agriculture, pharmaceutical prices and the labor market, as well as in Big Tech. Lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee did not focus on the Big Tech markets, which have received huge amounts of public attention, but asked about a range of industries. In response to each, Kanter pledged vigorous enforcement of antitrust law. Kanter showed enthusiasm when asked about the labor market, where non-compete agreements and other issues have come under criticism for making it harder for workers to leave their jobs for a higher salary or better conditions. He said that once confirmed he was “eager” to work on the issue.
Edited by Gary J. Malone