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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  November 2, 2020

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

Online giants will have to open ad archives to EU antitrust regulators.  Dominant tech companies will have to explain how their algorithms work under proposed new EU rules and also open up their ad archives to regulators and researchers, Europe’s digital and antitrust chief said on Friday.  The move is likely to impact U.S. online giants such as Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, with their treasure troves of data and lucrative online advertising businesses.  Advertising algorithms help companies target ads at the users that advertisers want to reach.

U.S. antitrust regulator loses bid to revive Qualcomm case.  A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday handed a victory to Qualcomm Inc., declining to reconsider an August decision that dismissed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust case against the chip designer.  In a brief order, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said it would not rehear arguments over whether the San Diego, California-based company had engaged in anticompetitive patent-licensing practices to keep a monopoly on the market for modem chips that connect smart phones to wireless data networks.  On Aug. 11, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit said the FTC failed to establish that Qualcomm’s practices had an anticompetitive effect on the cellular chip market.  The FTC had asked the entire court to rehear arguments and reconsider the panel decision.

Republicans Blast Social Media C.E.O.s While Democrats Deride Hearing.  Lawmakers hammered the chief executives of Twitter, Facebook, Google and one another at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, with Republicans claiming the companies were suppressing conservative views while Democrats accused their colleagues of holding a “sham” hearing for political gain.  For nearly four hours, members of the Commerce Committee pelted Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai with more than 120 questions about social media speech and the harm caused by their platforms, often framing their attacks through the lens of next week’s election. But unlike previous tech hearings, this one put the partisan divide on full display.

Visa’s deal to buy fintech startup Plaid faces antitrust scrutiny.  Payment processor Visa Inc.’s $5.3 billion deal to buy fintech startup Plaid Inc. is facing antitrust scrutiny at the U.S. Justice Department, which filed a petition with a court on Tuesday demanding more information about the business. .The Justice Department is reviewing the proposed transaction to determine if it is in violation of antitrust law.  The government on Tuesday filed a petition with a U.S. district court in Massachusetts, asking it to require consulting firm Bain & Co to turn over documents wanted as part of the antitrust review, including some that discuss Visa’s strategies around pricing and competition with other debit card networks.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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