FTC digs into smaller Big Tech-led acquisitions for antitrust probe
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will convene for an open meeting on September 15 to discuss staff findings on the dealings of Big Tech firms. These deals, involving companies such as Facebook and Apple, are usually too small to spark antitrust scrutiny by themselves, the agency remarked on Wednesday. The staff report will include smaller Big Tech acquisitions between 2010 and 2019.
The FTC began holding open meetings since reputed Big Tech critic Lina Khan was sworn in as its chair in June. The 32-year-old antitrust scholar and Yale Law School alumna is the youngest chair of the FTC. Within weeks of her appointment, Facebook and Amazon reportedly requested Khan be recused from antitrust investigation into their companies saying she wouldn't be an "impartial evaluator."
In the meeting next week, the FTC's five commissioners will also consider scrapping Trump-era guidelines regarding deals that combine a company with its suppliers. Big Tech's smaller acquisitions will be looked into since their size prevents them from being reported to antitrust enforcers. The likes of Google and Amazon have been facing antitrust scrutiny for over two years now, including multiple fruitless hearings before lawmakers.
To undertake the probe, the FTC had sent demands for information to five Big Tech entities including Microsoft in February last year. Reuters reports that the FTC claimed it wanted to investigate whether any of the smaller deals harmed competition. The FTC has already sued Facebook while the Department of Justice and several state attorneys general have taken on Google.
Reuters reported the three Democrats and two Republicans in the Commission would also be voting on whether a policy statement should be issued regarding the privacy breaches by health apps. A policy statement will be deliberated for a process to accept input on potential rules. President Joe Biden's choice of appointing a Big Tech critic for this key justice post appears to be working.