The Federal Trade Commission has released the agenda and a list of panelists for its October 8-10 public workshop on possible anticompetitive efforts to restrict competition on the Internet. The workshop will feature testimony from senior representatives of industry, academia, state and federal government agencies, and independent public policy organizations. The agenda, including a list of scheduled panelists and their affiliations, is available at http://www.ftc.gov/opp/ecommerce/anticompetitive/index.htm.
The FTC's workshop builds on a recent congressional hearing. On September 26, 2002, the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection held a hearing on "Possible State Impediments to E-commerce." The FTC testified at this hearing, and the Subcommittee's Chairman, Representative Cliff Stearns (R.-FL), indicated that Congress will ask for further testimony from the FTC after the workshop ends. The FTC's testimony is available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2002/09/020926testimony.htm.
In the past decade, there has been growing concern about possibly anticompetitive efforts to restrict competition on the Internet. The FTC's public workshop will focus on two types of possible restrictions. First, many states have enacted regulations that may have the effect of aiding existing bricks-and-mortar businesses at the expense of new Internet competitors. Of course, these regulations may be justified by consumer protection interests or other sound public policy reasons. Second, there has been ongoing concern that private companies may be curtailing e-commerce by employing potentially anticompetitive tactics, such as by collectively pressuring suppliers or dealers to limit sales over the Internet.
While much of this regulation and conduct undoubtedly has pro-competitive and pro-consumer rationales, the restrictions may impose costs on consumers that, according to some estimates, may exceed $15 billion annually.
The workshop will feature testimony regarding industries that have experienced substantial growth in commerce via the Internet, but that also may have been hampered by anticompetitive restrictions. In particular, the workshop will have panels on the following industries: (1) wine sales; (2) cyber-charter schools; (3) contact lenses; (4) automobiles; (5) caskets; (6) online legal services; (7) health care (telemedicine and online pharmaceutical sales); (8) auctions; (9) real estate, mortgages, and financial services; and (10) retailing. The schedule is as follows:
|9:00-9:10 AM:||Remarks from Chairman Timothy J. Muris|
|9:10-9:15 AM:||Remarks from Representative Cliff Stearns, Chairman, U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection|
|9:15-10:45 AM:||Overview: Legal and Economic Perspectives|
|11:00-11:10 AM:||Remarks from Dr. Randall Kroszner, Member, President's Council of Economic Advisers|
|11:15 AM-12:45 PM:||Overview: Industry Perspectives|
|2:00-3:45 PM:||Wine Sales (moderated by Commissioner Orson Swindle)|
|4:00-5:30 PM:||Cyber-Charter Schools|
|9:00-10:30 AM:||Contact Lenses|
|10:40-10:45 AM:||Remarks from Commissioner Thomas B. Leary|
|10:45 AM-12:15 PM:||Automobiles|
|3:00-4:30 PM:||Online Legal Services|
|4:45-6:15 PM:||Telemedicine and Online Pharmaceutical Sales|
|10:45 AM-12:30 PM:||Real Estate / Mortgages / Financial Services (moderated by Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson)|
|2:00-2:10 PM:||Remarks from Commissioner Sheila F. Anthony|
|4:00-5:30 PM:||Views from the States|
|5:30-5:40 PM:||Concluding Remarks from Ted Cruz, Director, FTC Office of Policy Planning|
As stated in the Federal Register notice announcing this event, anyone may submit responsive written comments either before or after the workshop, but in any case no later than November 8, 2002. Written comments should be submitted in both hard copy and electronic form. Six hard copies of each submission should be addressed to Donald S. Clark, Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Submissions should be captioned "Comments regarding ecompetition." Electronic submissions may be sent by electronic mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org". Alternatively, electronic submissions may be filed on a 3-1/2 inch computer disk with a label on the disk stating the name of the submitter and the name and version of the word-processing program used to create the document.
When in session, the workshop will be held in room 432 at FTC headquarters, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. All interested parties are welcome to attend. Pre-registration is not required.
Copies of the Federal Register notice announcing the workshop are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2002/07/ecomfrn.htm, and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.
For more information, contact: Ted Cruz, Director, Office of Policy Planning, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580, 202-326-3683, email@example.com; or Mildred Taylor, Staff Secretary, 202-326-2553, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Claudia B. Farrell
Office of Public Affairs
Ted Cruz, Director
Office of Policy Planning