FTC Official Says Century-Old Antitrust Laws Can Target Big Tech
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission would take a hard look at the data it has compiled on the technology industry before recommending any changes to antitrust laws, a top agency official told Bloomberg Television on Monday.
Bruce Hoffman, director of the FTC’s competition bureau, said antitrust enforcers have a long track record of using the existing laws governing antitrust and the most recent economic theories to address the impact of new technologies on markets.
"The antitrust trust laws have for a century done a very, very good job at evolving with the times," Hoffman said. "I think it would take an awful lot to make us suggest some kind of general change to antitrust law."
Hoffman, who oversees the FTC unit charged with investigating mergers and business practices for possible anti-competitive harm, declined to comment on specific investigations. He said the agency’s job is not to "punish companies" for being big, but to determine if their conduct is unfairly anti-competitive.
Hoffman’s comments offered insight into how the FTC will scrutinize whether tech companies are violating competition laws. The Justice Department and the commission have divvied up antitrust oversight of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., and Apple Inc.
Separately, the House Judiciary Committee is conducting an antitrust investigation of technology companies that will include a review of whether current antitrust laws are adequate, according to Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who is leading the inquiry.
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