Note: The FTC hosted a conference call for media with Bureau of Competition Director Bruce Hoffman:
Date: Feb. 26, 2019
Time: 12 noon ET
Call-in: (800) 288-8961, confirmation number 464702
Call-in lines, which were for media only, opened 15 minutes prior to the start of the call. Bruce Hoffman took questions about the FTC Technology Task Force.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition announced the creation of a task force dedicated to monitoring competition in U.S. technology markets, investigating any potential anticompetitive conduct in those markets, and taking enforcement actions when warranted.
To create the Technology Task Force, the Bureau of Competition will draw upon existing staff and expertise to enhance the Bureau’s focus on technology-related sectors of the economy, including markets in which online platforms compete. The creation of this task force is modeled on the FTC’s successful Merger Litigation Task Force, launched in 2002 by then-Bureau of Competition Director Joe Simons. The 2002 task force reinvigorated the Commission’s hospital merger review program, and also sharpened the agency’s focus on merger enforcement in retail industries, particularly regarding matters involving food, beverages, and supermarkets.
“The role of technology in the economy and in our lives grows more important every day,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons. “As I’ve noted in the past, it makes sense for us to closely examine technology markets to ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition. Our ongoing Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century are a crucial step to deepen our understanding of these markets and potential competitive issues. The Technology Task Force is the next step in that effort.”
The new task force team will include approximately 17 staff attorneys. Task force members, who will join the task force from divisions within the Bureau, will include attorneys with unique expertise in complex product and service markets and ecosystems, including markets for online advertising, social networking, mobile operating systems and apps, and platform businesses. The task force will also include a Technology Fellow, who will provide important technical assistance and expertise to support the task force’s investigations.
The new task force will be led by Patricia Galvan, currently the Deputy Assistant Director of the Mergers III Division, and Krisha Cerilli, currently Counsel to the Director. The task force will be overseen by Director Bruce Hoffman, Deputy Director Gail Levine, and Associate Director for Digital Markets Daniel Francis. The Technology Task Force will work closely with economists from the FTC’s Bureau of Economics. In addition, task force members will coordinate with their counterparts in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection who also focus on technology platforms.
“Technology markets, which are rapidly evolving and touch so many other sectors of the economy, raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement,” said Bureau Director Bruce Hoffman. “By centralizing our expertise and attention, the new task force will be able to focus on these markets exclusively – ensuring they are operating pursuant to the antitrust laws, and taking action where they are not.”
In addition to examining industry practices and conducting law enforcement investigations, the Technology Task Force will, among other things, coordinate and consult with staff throughout the FTC on technology-related matters, including prospective merger reviews in the technology sector and reviews of consummated technology mergers.
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