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The Antitrust Week In Review

Posted  March 15, 2021

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

U.S. lawmakers discuss antitrust exemption for media.  Lawmakers heard testimony on Friday over whether a bill aimed at helping news outlets negotiate with tech platforms was an appropriate way to help the struggling industry, including discussion of whether it should be restricted to smaller news organizations. Representative David Cicilline, chair of the House Judiciary Committee antitrust panel, said his bill to allow a broad array of news organizations to collectively negotiate with Alphabet’s Google and Facebook in hopes of recouping ad revenues would be a “temporary solution to an urgent problem.” His bill and a Senate companion were introduced on Wednesday.

U.S. Justice Department nominee Gupta vows strong antitrust enforcement.  Vanita Gupta, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Justice Department’s No. 3 post, said on Tuesday that she doubts that big tech companies would be excited about her being confirmed and promised to pursue vigorous enforcement of antitrust law. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a confirmation hearing for the Democratic president’s nominations of Gupta as associate attorney general and Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, the department’s No. 2 job. Gupta said she plans to use the full force of U.S. antitrust laws to protect competition.

Facebook asks court to dismiss U.S. government, states antitrust cases.  Facebook asked a federal court on Wednesday to dismiss major antitrust cases filed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and nearly every U.S. state, saying they failed to show the company had a monopoly or harmed consumers. “By a one-vote margin, in the fraught environment of relentless criticism of Facebook for matters entirely unrelated to antitrust concerns, the agency decided to bring a case against Facebook,” Facebook said in responding to the FTC complaint.  “None of the harms typically alleged in antitrust actions is alleged here,” it said. In lawsuits filed in December, the FTC and states asked the court to force the social media giant to sell two prized assets, its messaging app WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

Tagged in: Antitrust Enforcement, Antitrust Litigation,