IAP Submits Public Comment Supporting Proposed FTC And DOJ Merger Guidelines

September 19, 2023

WASHINGTON — Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) issued draft merger guidelines that would alter how the agencies review all mergers and acquisitions, accounting for each transaction’s compliance with federal antitrust laws. The Internet Accountability Project recently submitted its public comment in support of the updated guidelines, citing the need to curtail the power of Big Tech’s mergers, which have allowed Big Tech companies to dominate their respective markets.

“The decades since antitrust flipped to the consumer welfare standard have not served American citizens and competition in our technology sector well. Laissez faire merger enforcement in the internet sector has eroded conservative values in our communities as well as conservative discourse. Even if the consumer welfare standard reflected in current case law had merit, the standard needs updating to reflect the significant shifts in our economy since it was first adopted into caselaw beginning in the 1970s. Specifically, the existing, narrow consumer welfare standard focused on price and output effects of a given merger misses the mark in the internet sector by a wide margin and fails to take into account how digital markets operate in reality,” the IAP said.

“Conservatives are painfully aware of the role played by dominant Big Tech platforms in throttling legitimate speech and degrading children’s lives online. IAP believes there is a direct nexus between these disturbing trends and the absence of competition online and have documented these concerns extensively elsewhere. The purpose of this comment is less to rehash those concerns and more to draw a direct line between them and the lax antitrust enforcement that enabled untold Big Tech consolidation over the past several decades,” the IAP continued.

“It is time for conservatives to acknowledge that state actors like the DOJ and the FTC can and must play a role in preserving marketplace competition through reinvigorated merger enforcement. As Teddy Roosevelt said in the first Gilded Age, ‘The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but it is in duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown.’ Antitrust was a key and proven backstop in protecting the free market from monopolies then as it should be now. Today, Big Tech platforms are powerful in ways beyond even President Roosevelt’s imagination. This power was in no small part made possible by unfettered consolidation in the digital economy enabled by lax antitrust enforcement. For these reasons, IAP supports the proposed Merger Guidelines approach to consolidation in highly concentrated digital markets,” the IAP concluded.

The IAP has long been a supporter of bipartisan legislation to curtail the power of Big Tech. In July, the IAP supported President Biden’s two selections of Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak to join the FTC as commissioners. When the American Innovation and Choice Online Act was reintroduced in June, the IAP was one of the first to praise the reintroduction of the crucial bipartisan legislation to rein in Big Tech’s unchecked power. In last year’s omnibus bill, IAP played a crucial role in securing several wins in the fight against Big Tech.

IAP is a nonprofit conservative advocacy group that holds Big Tech accountable for engaging in egregious business practices like snooping, spying, political bias against conservatives, employee abuses and anticompetitive conduct. Davis previously served as Chief Counsel for Nominations to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and led the Senate confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and a record number of circuit court judges. More information on Davis and IAP can be found here.


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