Cases against Facebook are reportedly coming… when FTC decides how

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Giant screens displaying the Facebook logo hang from an empty conference center ceiling.
Zoom in / All Facebook, no matter which way you look.

After spending more than a year investigating Facebook, state and federal regulators are more than ready to start launching a list of cases against Facebook, the new reports say – that is, once the agencies agree on how they really want to do it.

New lawsuits should be filed against Facebook before the end of January, The Wall Street Journal Writes. No th Federal Trade Commission And a Coalition Of the prosecutors in 47 states and territories are expected to take some kind of action.

Federal and state investigations fundamentally look at two comprehensive sets of anti-competitive behavior. The first is about Facebook’s effects on other companies that they can or indeed can compete with. This is the investigation that delves into mergers and acquisitions, both Large And the Small, And so is Facebook’s behavior towards Companies that reject the takeover.

No amount of state, federal, and international investigations appear to have slowed the Facebook takeover wave. The company has already bought at least five companies this year only. Including a $ 400 million deal to buy Giphy in May. That wave shows no signs of stopping: Earlier today, Facebook said it was Buying startup Kustomer CRM In a bargain The Wall Street Journal Pegging currencies is about 1 billion dollars.

The second group concerns the actions that affect users – 2.7 billion people who use Facebook services – as well as other links in the digital supply chain, such as advertisers. These could also be antitrust concerns, like New York Attorney General Letitia James He said When you launched the investigation, because the company’s actions may have “compromised consumer data, reduced the quality of consumer choices, or increased advertising price,” all of this could be considered anti-competitive.

The states are expected to eventually sue in court. However, the type of action the regulators are taking is currently a sticking point for any federal issue. As with every other case in Washington, the reasons for the shorthand are in politics.

When is a lawsuit not a lawsuit?

The FTC has two options when you want to file a lawsuit to prevent a merger or pursue an antitrust case. They can file a lawsuit in federal district court, as any other agency (or group of state prosecutors) would – or they can file the case internally, before the Federal Trade Commission Administrative law judgeOr ALJ.

Every option has its pros and cons: If the FTC goes to federal court, it can cooperate with the states’ case rather than going through it alone. On the other hand, if the Federal Trade Commission takes the case within the company, it can build a solid set of antitrust legal theories that can then be used in subsequent enforcement cases. There’s a political aspect, too: The Federal Trade Commission will use its own legal capabilities and show it off CanInstead of leaving all antitrust measures in the hands of the Ministry of Justice.

to me PoliticoThe five FTC commissioners are divided on how to proceed. President Joseph Simmons has reportedly preferred to take the case to an administrative law judge rather than a federal court. The two Democratic members of the committee, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Rohit Chopra, are reported to want to file a lawsuit but are apparently reluctant to go ahead with the chief judge or go to federal court. According to three sources Politico spoke with, the two Republican members of the commission, Christine Wilson and Noah Phillips, “are seen as unlikely to support any case against Facebook.”


Here’s where it gets tricky: The FTC, like the FCC, is always designed to have a 3–2 split, with a chair and commissioners belonging to the majority party and other commissioners belonging to the minority party. Over the past four years, this split has been 3-2 in favor of the Republicans. When Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on January 20, it is widely expected that Simmons (just like the chairman of the FCC) will step down Ajit Bey It will), and the Biden administration will nominate a Democrat of its choice to the Senate to confirm the position of the new president.

The Senate is the sticking point there. Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) has a strong history of blocking candidates from Democratic administrations, and Politico notes that there are concerns that if the majority leader remains after the Georgia Senate run-offs in January, he may “slow down” Accidentally – walk with no FTC Biden candidates, “leaving the agency at a standstill 2-2 for an extended period of time.”

Politico explains that once an administrative law judge makes a decision, FTC commissioners can review the decision and possibly overrule it – essentially, an appeals process is included. But if the commissioners come to a standstill – and if there are only four, they can – then the ALJ’s ruling remains in place and there are no other avenues available for appeal. This, then, could theoretically be a point in favor of taking the case out of the FTC.

The clock is ticking. Regardless of Simmons’ decision, he has about seven weeks to make the call.

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