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The Antitrust Week in Review

Posted  November 22, 2021

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

Senate approves Jonathan Kanter, a Big Tech critic, as the top U.S. antitrust official.  The Senate has confirmed Jonathan Kanter, a corporate lawyer and Big Tech critic, to the top antitrust role in the nation, the latest action in efforts to curb the power of Silicon Valley giants. In a 68-to-29 vote, the approval of Mr. Kanter to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division filled a key position in the Biden administration. The White House has made clear that it wants to rein in consolidation in American business, especially among powerful tech companies. His confirmation will go to President Biden for final approval.

U.S. FTC says court should allow antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to proceed.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal court to allow its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to go forward as the company has “interfered with the competitive process by targeting nascent threats through exclusionary conduct.” In August the FTC refreshed its antitrust case against Facebook, now Meta Platforms, adding detail on the accusation the social media company crushed or bought rivals and asking a judge to force it to sell Instagram and WhatsApp. In a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the FTC said that for more than a decade, Facebook’s market share – for example, more than 70% of daily active users – exceed the levels needed to establish monopoly power.

Biden Highlights Electric Vehicles While Asking for Inquiry Into High Gas Prices.  President Biden helped christen a General Motors factory that manufactures electric vehicles, zipping around in a battery-powered Hummer to highlight a transition to energy-efficient cars and trucks that the president hopes his $1 trillion infrastructure law will accelerate. But the visit came on a day when Mr. Biden was dealing with a more immediate problem — surging gas prices. Before he left for Michigan, the president asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil and gas companies were engaging in “illegal conduct” that was driving up prices at the pump.

State attorneys general open an inquiry into Instagram’s impact on teens.  A bipartisan group of state attorneys general said they had opened an investigation into Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, for promoting its social media app Instagram while knowing of mental and emotional harms caused by the service. At least 11 states are involved in the investigation, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia. Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general and one of the leaders of the investigation, said the states were examining whether the company’s actions violated state consumer protection laws and put the public at risk.

Edited by Gary J. Malone

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