Critics Are Wary of the FTC’s New Tech Antitrust Task Force

Issie Lapowsky, Wired:

While some tech critics, like former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani, saw the announcement as a sign that the agency is taking antitrust issues seriously, others worried the task force amounts to little more than bureaucratic reconfiguring for FTC lawyers.

“I’m scornful of the new seating arrangements, because the FTC has consistently proven they do not want to wield power,” says Matt Stoller, a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, an antimonopoly think tank that has called for a breakup of Facebook. “They want to hold hearings. They want to get their friend economists and antitrust lawyers to fly into DC and talk to each other. They don’t want to do their No. 1 job, which is to police markets for unfair and anticompetitive behavior.”

There is lots of solid criticism of today’s news in this piece.

Karl Bode also points out that this task force explicitly targets tech companies, which ought to make ISPs very happy. I argued that Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp are one example of a toxic antitrust move; Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal is absolutely on a similar plane, but it will escape this task force’s mandate because Comcast is a telecom company, not a tech firm.