Remarks of Commissioner Sheila F. Anthony
FTC B2B Conference
Thursday, June 29, 2000
Good afternoon. Welcome to this afternoon's session of the FTC's B2B workshop. Thank you for coming and for sharing your perspectives on this promising new business model.
It seems that hardly a day goes by anymore that I don't pick up a paper and see an article about yet another industry proposing to embark on a B2B venture. The promise of huge efficiencies is certainly tantalizing. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if there might be a serpent in the garden of efficiencies. I'm referring, of course, to potential antitrust problems. Could B2B ventures engender collusion? Are they likely to facilitate signaling? Might B2B's take the form of exclusive arrangements that freeze out would-be competitors? I don't pretend to know. That's why I'm excited about this conference.
This morning we listened to the panelists speak about nutramediaries, inter-operability issues, the eventual need for standards (both technical and for service levels), and the importance of security to protect confidential information and intellectual property. We also heard Chris Cogan remark that monitoring B2B's under the old rules presents new challenges to the FTC. I couldn't agree more.
It's impossible for me to sort out the realistic threats to competition from those that are speculative and unlikely to materialize without knowing a lot more detail about how B2B enterprises will be structured and will function. While I understand the overall concept of B2B ventures, I'm eager to hear more about the details - about the "nuts and bolts" of these enterprises and the transactions they will facilitate. Of course, I'm also very interested in hearing from you -- the likely participants -- about your concerns and more about your suggestions for avoiding potential antitrust problems. In short, we at the FTC are very much in a learning phase.
I'm very glad you are all here, and I'm ready to listen. Thank you.