FTC Launches Task Force to Monitor Big Tech

The Federal Trade Commission building in Washington on . The nation's largest prepaid mobile provider, TracFone Wireless, will pay $40 million to settle government claims that it misled millions of smartphone customers with promises of unlimited data service. The FTC said that TracFone's advertising promised unlimited data, but the company then drastically slowed down consumers' data speeds, a practice known as throttling, when they had used a certain amount of data within a 30-day period. In some cases, the FTC said, the company cut off customers' data service when they ran over the limitFTC TracFone Settlement, Washington, USA
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WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission is launching a task force to monitor technology markets, and its scrutiny will include proposed mergers and ones that have already taken place.

The task force will take enforcement action “when warranted,” the FTC said.

The move is a response to increased concerns among Democrats and Republicans over the market power of big tech platforms, such as Google and Facebook.

“The role of technology in the economy and in our lives grows more important every day,” Joe Simons, FTC chairman, said in a statement. “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 FTC already has been holding a series of hearings that include questions of whether current antitrust laws are adequate to respond to the growth of platforms.

President Donald Trump has railed against big tech, although he has claimed the Silicon Valley companies have a bias against the right. “Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous!” he wrote in December.

The task force will include 17 staff attorneys and will be led by Patricia Galvan, who is the deputy assistant director the the Mergers III Division, and Krisha Cerilli, who is counsel to the director of the division, Bruce Hoffman.

In a statement, Hoffman said that technology markets “raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement.”

“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,” he said.