WASHINGTON – The Federal Trade Commission voted Thursday to expand its discretion to challenge what it sees as unfair competition methods, which could open the door to a broader range of antitrust enforcement cases against large technology companies.
The commission voted 3-2 along party lines to pass the measure, with Democrats in the majority. The vote repeals a 2015 agency policy that had effectively prevented the FTC from using its authority to challenge unfair practices unless the behavior was already a violation of other antitrust laws, proponents said. Those laws focus on whether the practices cause harm to consumers.
The new Democratic FTC chairwoman Lina Khan, who supported the measure, said it aimed to return to the agency the original mandate of Congress, based on the Fair Trade Commission Act of 1914, to monitor competition practices. unfair that are not covered by other laws.
“In practice, the 2015 statement has been doubled due to the agency’s long-standing failure to investigate and prosecute unfair methods of competition,” said Khan, who was recently chosen to chair the commission by President Biden. She added: “I intend to help restore the agency to this critical mission.”
Republicans complained that the measure would introduce new uncertainty into the law and give regulators new powers to what Republican Commissioner Noah Phillips described as “a handful of unelected officials.”