FTC Announces Hearings on Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws in Global, High-Tech Economy

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  • invites public comment and participation

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it will hold hearings this fall to determine whether changing economic factors, such as the development of a global economy and the growth of high-tech industries, require adjustments in current antitrust and consumer protection enforcement.

"Strong rivalry in domestic markets helps U.S. firms compete successfully throughout the world and ensures competitive choices for U.S. consumers," FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said today in announcing the hearings. "As our economy moves in new directions, however, we must be sure antitrust and consumer protection enforcement continues to protect the operation of the free market and does not unduly hamper the ability of U.S. firms to succeed in international competition.

"The purpose of the hearings is to bring together individuals who have first-hand experience with these issues in order to examine whether changes in the enforcement of antitrust and consumer protection laws are needed to keep pace with changes prompted by global and innovation-based competition," Pitofsky said. "We want to know what is working well in our enforcement policy and what may need some adjustment."

The hearings, expected to begin in early October, will be held at the FTC headquarters, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W, in Washington, D.C. The hearings will be open to the public, and the FTC invites individuals who are interested in participating to contact the agency. Participation also may be through written comments submitted before the end of the hearings. All written comments, along with a transcript of the hearing proceedings, will be placed on the public record.

According to the FTC, specific issues to be covered by the hearings may include, among others:


  • whether the traditional antitrust approach to measuring market power fully accounts for global or innovation-based competition;
  • whether U.S. merger analysis should revise its approach to claims of efficiency, and also to claims of corporate failure and distressed industry conditions;
  • whether competition policy needs to be adjusted when applied to industries that compete more directly

through innovation, rather than price;

  • whether international consumer protection standards are needed to address the increase in fraud or consumer harm likely to stem from the burgeoning number of cross-border consumer transactions;
  • whether there are particular regulatory barriers that unduly impair the ability of small firms to compete in a global environment; and
  • what procedures the FTC itself should adopt to better protect consumers and promote competition, given the realities of global competition and rapid innovation.

Additional information on the hearings will be provided in a Federal Register notice scheduled to be published later this week. A detailed proposed agenda also is available on the FTC Home Page on the World Wide Web (http://www.ftc.gov) or by calling the FTC Policy Planning office at (202) 326-3190.

The FTC requests that public comment about the hearings be addressed to: "Comments on Hearings on Global Competition and Innovation," Donald S. Clark, Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. Comments should be submitted, if possible, in electronic and written form. Electronic submissions should be on either a 5 and 1/4 or 3 and 1/2 inch computer disk, with a label on the disk stating the name of the individual commenting, and the name and version of the word processing program used to create the document. (Programs based on DOS are acceptable. Files from operating systems should be submitted in ASCII format.)

Requests to participate in the hearings should be submitted no later than August 31, 1995 and should be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, at the previously listed FTC address.

Copies of the Federal Register notice and the proposed agenda (short form and more detailed version) will be available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials, including the proposed agenda for the FTC hearings, also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov

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