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Mike Lee, Klobuchar urge FTC to ‘consider all available options’ against Facebook

Ailan Evans, DCNF

A group of lawmakers wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday urging the agency to continue pursuing action against Facebook.

The letter, written by Sens. Mike Lee and Amy Klobuchar and Reps. David Cicilline and Ken Buck, urged the FTC to “consider all available options under the law” when pursuing antitrust action against tech giant Facebook. All four lawmakers hold top positions in congressional antitrust subcommittees.

“It is essential that the Commission take action to deter anticompetitive conduct by digital monopolists by ensuring that they are held liable for antitrust violations to the full extent of the law,” the lawmakers wrote. “Competition and innovation in America’s digital economy depend on it.”

The FTC is expected to file a new complaint against Facebook, Reuters reported.

The letter cited Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp as examples of anticompetitive practices, along with the tech company’s alleged practice of preventing competitors from interoperating with its software.

The lawmakers expressed support for supplying the FTC with additional resources to regulate large tech companies, and called attention to antitrust legislation each of the lawmakers had proposed.

A federal judge had dismissed a December complaint brought by 46 states and the FTC against Facebook earlier this week, ruling that it was “legally insufficient” and that evidence for the tech company’s status as a monopoly was inadequate.

“The FTC has failed to plead enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all of its Section 2 claims — namely, that Facebook has monopoly power in the market for Personal Social Networking (PSN) Services,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote in the ruling.

The FTC’s new chair, Lina Khan, previously advocated for increased regulation of large tech companies, writing a piece entitled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” while at Yale Law School supporting more muscular regulation of digital markets.

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