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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  December 21, 2020

Here are some of the developments in antitrust news this past week that we found interesting and are following.

Supreme Court to Rule on N.C.A.A. Limits on Paying College Athletes.  The Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to decide whether the N.C.A.A. had violated federal antitrust laws by restricting what college athletes could be paid.  In May, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled that the N.C.A.A. was not free to limit compensation and benefits tied to education for Division I football and basketball players.  The court rejected the N.C.A.A.’s argument that compensating athletes would alienate sports fans.  “Uncapping certain education-related benefits would preserve consumer demand for college athletics just as well as the challenged rules do,” Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

U.S. tech giants face 6-10% fines as EU set rules to curb their power.  Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet unit Google may have to change their business practices in Europe or face hefty fines between 6-10% under new draft EU rules to be announced on Tuesday.  The rules are the most serious attempt by the 27-country bloc to rein in the power of the U.S. tech giants which control troves of data and online platforms on which thousands of companies and millions of Europeans rely on.  Regulatory scrutiny has been growing worldwide of tech giants and their power.  European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager and EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton will present the rules, a bid not just to rein in tech giants but also to prevent the emergence of anti-competitive dominant companies.

Google hit with third antitrust lawsuit as more than 30 U.S. states sue.  A group of U.S. state attorneys general including Colorado and 34 other states filed an antitrust complaint against Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Thursday, marking the third lawsuit against the online search and advertising company this fall.  The states could ask that their lawsuit be consolidated with one filed by the Justice Department in October.  The federal government’s complaint was joined by 11 states and accused the $1 trillion giant of acting unlawfully to maintain its position in search and advertising on the internet.  On Wednesday, a group of Republican attorneys general led by Texas filed a separate lawsuit focused on Google’s dominance of digital advertising.

Australia sues Facebook over user data, echoing U.S. antitrust case.  An Australian regulator sued Facebook Inc. on Wednesday accusing it of collecting user data without permission, building on government efforts around the world to rein in the social network.  The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was seeking an unspecified fine from Facebook for promoting a virtual private network as a way for people to protect their data, while secretly using the information to pick targets for commercial acquisitions.  The lawsuit echoes a landmark U.S. Federal Trade Commission action accusing the social media giant of inappropriately maintaining market dominance by using customer data to decide on takeover targets including messaging app Whatsapp and image-sharing app Instagram.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation, International Competition Issues,