The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition announced the creation of a Technology Task Force. It is dedicated to monitoring competition in the U.S. technology markets, investigating any potential anticompetitive conduct in those markets, and taking enforcement actions when warranted.
The creation of this task force is modeled on the FTC’s Merger Litigation Task Force which reinvigorated the Bureau of Competition’s hospital merger review program, and also sharpened the agency’s focus on merger enforcement in retail industries, particularly regarding matters involving food, beverages, and supermarkets.
“The role of technology in the economy and in our lives grows more important every day,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “As I’ve noted in the past, it makes sense for us to closely examine technology markets to ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition.”
The Technology Task Force will have about 17 staff attorneys. It will include attorneys with unique expertise in complex product and service markets and ecosystems, including markets for online advertising, social networking, mobile operating systems and apps, and platform businesses.
“Technology markets, which are rapidly evolving and touch so many other sectors of the economy, raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement,” said Bureau Director Bruce Hoffman. “By centralizing our expertise and attention, the new task force will be able to focus on these markets exclusively – ensuring they are operating pursuant to the antitrust laws, and taking action where they are not.”
Personally, I think the existence of the Technology Task Force should worry companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Each one will have to consider antitrust laws before gobbling up smaller companies. I wonder if the Technology Task Force will look at the companies who make video games, who buy up smaller competitors, and then do massive layoffs a little while later.
I’m hoping that the consumer protection aspect of the Technology Task Force will put in place restrictions on how social media companies can use people’s data – especially in situations where that data is being used to make money for those companies. It will be interesting to see what, exactly, the Technology Task Force does.