Antitrust Law Daily Senate subcommittee to hold hearing on digital platform mergers
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Senate subcommittee to hold hearing on digital platform mergers

By Jody Coultas, J.D.

Senators Klobuchar and Lee announce hearing to discuss concerns related to the acquisition of potential competitors by tech companies.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing on September 24th to address concerns related to the acquisition by digital platforms of nascent or potential competitors, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) announced. The hearing will explore issues relating to competition in technology markets and the antitrust agencies’ efforts to root out anticompetitive conduct. This hearing will follow the "Oversight of the Enforcement of the Antitrust Laws" hearing on September 17th, at which Joseph Simons of the FTC and Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division will address the committee.

"Acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors by dominant digital platforms can be pro-competitive, but they also run the risk of eliminating the very competition that may challenge the incumbent firm’s leading position in the future," Lee said.

"We are holding this hearing to gain a better understanding of the various concerns raised by these transactions and to examine how the antitrust agencies analyze such mergers. In addition to the hearing, the Subcommittee also is interested in soliciting input from policy analysts, market participants, and other stakeholders on whether legislative action relating to such mergers is needed to ensure digital markets remain competitive," Lee finished.

"This is an important hearing. In recent years we have seen a record number of mergers that have raised serious competition issues," Klobuchar said. "Big technology companies have become some of the most powerful organizations in the world. They face little competition and there are numerous examples of the companies purchasing startup competitors in various lines of business. These companies’ practices can limit options for consumers, distort prices, and stifle innovation. With virtually no meaningful pushback from our government, these companies have reshaped the meaning of American privacy, the purchasing of goods and services, and the workings of our elections and our democracy."

"To respond to these concerns I have continually advocated for (1) changes to our laws; (2) aggressive enforcement of the laws on the books; and (3) adequate funding for the FTC and DOJ antitrust division. I will be asking questions about the effects of tech company mergers on competition and steps to address these problems," Klobuchar finished.

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