At the first open commission meeting in decades, Khan and Democratic commissioners rescinded an Obama-era policy that limited what antitrust cases the FTC could pursue. Democrats say this is just the beginning of strengthening the commission's work on anticompetitive behavior, and in the coming months, they may issue new rules or policies to clarify what kind of misconduct it might scrutinize.
Introducing the motion, Khan said the policy contributed to the agency’s “long-standing failure to investigate and pursue unfair methods of competition.”
Just over two weeks into her role as commissioner, Khan faces multiple challenges.
After years of closed meetings, yesterday’s virtual gathering was an opportunity for Khan to show how her heavily watched tenure might depart from FTC tradition. In her opening remarks, she sought to emphasize her commitment to transparency and ensuring the agency lives up to its mission.
But the meeting came following a tough week. A federal judge on Monday threw out the agency’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, forcing the FTC to revisit a high-profile case brought under the Trump administration. The judge said the FTC did not provide enough evidence to show that Facebook has a monopoly, and gave the agency 30 days to refile.
And on Wednesday, Amazon requested that Khan recuse herself from all antitrust matters related to the company, as my colleagues Jay Greene and Rachel Lerman reported. Khan is a long-running critic of the company, but she noted in her confirmation hearing before the Senate that she had “none of the financial conflicts or personal ties that are the basis of recusal under federal ethics laws.”
(Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Partisan fireworks at the meeting were a harbinger of yet another challenge facing Khan
Republican commissioners — Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson — repeatedly attacked the lack of notice for the meeting and warned that the moves would result in less clarity for businesses and consumers about the agency’s work.
Phillips criticized the lack of public comment for the vote related to competition cases, saying it was resulting in the “opposite” of transparency that the meeting was intended to provide.
And industry groups also went on the offensive.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most powerful business lobbies in Washington, immediately issued a statement criticizing the Democratic commissioners’ votes.
“Today’s open meeting lays bare the path that Federal Trade Commission wants to proceed in picking winners and losers in our economy — to the detriment of American consumers and market-based competition,” Jordan Crenshaw, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Technology Engagement Center, said in a statement.
Tech groups including Netchoice also released critical statements.
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Trump allies launched a social media site. The former president hasn’t joined.
Jason Miller, former president Donald Trump’s ex-spokesman, said he’s leading the platform, Politico’s Meredith McGraw, Tina Nguyen and Cristiano Lima report. But Trump himself is conspicuously absent from the site, with the former president apparently still plotting his own social media site, according to Bloomberg News’s Mark Niquette and Jennifer Jacobs.
“There’s a lot of platforms out there; that’s what we’re looking at, getting the right platform, a perfect platform, and I think you’ll see something fairly soon,” Trump said last week.
Amazon updated its corporate values as founder Jeff Bezos prepares to step down as CEO.
The company added two new “leadership principles” — “Strive to be Earth’s Best Employer,” and “Success and Scale Bring Broad Responsibility” — to its list of 14 values, Bloomberg News’s Matt Day reports. The two changes both come in response to two long-standing criticisms of the e-commerce giant: that workers at the company face tough working conditions, and the company’s secondary effects on neighborhoods and the environment.
Employees are hired and evaluated based on how they fulfill the principles.
Amazon Web Services chief executive Andy Jassy plans to take over as Amazon’s CEO on Monday. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.
In a victory for Biden, 130 countries signed on to a minimum tax plan for tech giants and other large corporations.
It could be the most significant change to global tax rules in a century, David J. Lynch writes. For the first time, the agreement announced included provisions for taxing U.S. tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.
A handful of countries, including Ireland, did not sign on. The country has lured major companies and tech giants alike with its 12.5 percent corporate tax rate. David has more details on the complex agreement here.
Rant and rave
Facebook is testing prompts that tell users that they may have been exposed to extremist content or ask them whether they're worried about people they know becoming an extremist, CNN's Oliver Darcy reports. Many people discussed Facebook's history and its role in radicalization. BuzzFeed News's David Mack:
Ellis Hamburger, the head of marketing strategy at Snapchat: