Critics of big tech firms cheered after prosecutors and lawmakers took action against Facebook Inc. Recent developments have underscored the challenges of using the courts and Congress to reshape those businesses.
US District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit was “legally insufficient,” and said the regulator did not show sufficient evidence that Facebook was a monopoly and that its practices were damaging the competence. In another setback, the judge dismissed the case brought against Facebook by 46 states on the grounds that, among other things, the attorneys general waited too long to present their claims.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington are considering the way forward after a tough battle last week to promote bills aimed at strengthening enforcement of antitrust laws in technology. Many pro-business Democrats are under pressure to delay or water down bills, which could facilitate the breakdown of companies like Facebook and Amazon.com Inc., as are House Republicans.
“Anyone who thought this was going to be quick and easy should probably take a step back … the law is tough, the policy is tough,” said Harry First, a professor of antitrust law at New York University who worked on state litigation. against Microsoft. Corp. for more than 20 years.
Judge Boasberg ruled that the FTC did not show sufficient evidence that Facebook had monopoly power in the market for personal social networking services. He also said that there is nothing necessarily illegal about Facebook having a policy of restricting access to its tools and user data. The ruling left open the possibility for federal plaintiffs to resubmit their case, but illustrates how the standards of antitrust law can be difficult for regulators to meet.