Congress Faces Renewed Pressure to ‘Modernize Our Antitrust Laws’

by Msnbctv news staff

The F.T.C. is “closely reviewing the opinion and assessing the best option forward,” said Lindsay Kryzak, a spokeswoman for the agency.

The rulings were another instance of Facebook’s ability to evade the harshest consequences to its business. Though the F.T.C. fined Facebook $5 billion in 2019 for privacy violations, there were few significant changes to how the company’s products operate. And Facebook continues to grow: More than 3.45 billion people use one or more of its apps — including WhatsApp, Instagram or Messenger — every month.

The decisions were particularly deflating after actions to rein in tech power in Washington had gathered steam. Ms. Khan’s appointment to the F.T.C. this month followed that of Tim Wu, another lawyer who has been critical of the industry, to the National Economic Council. Bruce Reed, the president’s deputy chief of staff, has called for new privacy regulation.

Mr. Biden has yet to name anyone to permanently lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which last year filed a lawsuit arguing Google had illegally protected its monopoly over online search.

The White House is also expected to issue an executive order targeting corporate consolidation in tech and other areas of the economy. The order is still being drafted, and officials said Mr. Biden had not yet reviewed it. White House officials have declined to discuss it in detail until he signs it, most likely next week.

The officials said that without action by Congress, a president’s powers to deal with antitrust issues were limited. One official, who requested anonymity, said that after the court decisions to throw out the Facebook suits, Mr. Biden was “concerned about anticompetitive behavior in a number of industries, including the tech sector,” and that he was encouraged by the bipartisan work in Congress to address the problems.

Activists and lawmakers said this week that Congress should not wait to give regulators more tools, money and legal red lines to use against the tech giants. Mr. Cicilline, along with Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that the judge’s decisions on Facebook show “the dire need to modernize our antitrust laws to address anticompetitive mergers and abusive conduct in the digital economy.”

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