WASHINGTON. On Monday, a federal judge scrapped regulators’ attempts to destroy Facebook. antitrust lawsuits filed against the company by the Federal Trade Commission and more than 40 states.
US District Court Judge for the District of Columbia James Boasberg stated: case from states must be dismissed because too much time has passed since the alleged offenses were committed. In December, states led by New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Facebook of buying up new competitors like Instagram and WhatsApp – deals made in 2012 and 2014 – to cement its monopoly on social media.
In a separate, 53-page opinion, he said Federal Trade Commission complaint, also filed in December, did not provide enough evidence to back up its claims that Facebook has a monopoly on personal social media.
The judge said the FTC has 30 days to reconsider the complaint.
“It really hurts,” said William E. Kovacic, the agency’s former chairman. “This is a reminder to those who wanted a dramatic and widespread legal campaign against Big Tech that this is not easy because the courts view the antitrust system differently.”
FTC officials and the New York attorney general did not immediately have comments.
Christopher Sgro, a Facebook spokesman, said: “We are delighted that today’s decisions recognize the flaws in the government complaints filed against Facebook. We compete fairly every day to earn people’s time and attention, and will continue to provide great products for the people and businesses that use our services. ”
The news pushed Facebook stock up 4.2 percent, and the company’s market cap surpassed $ 1 trillion, a first for a social network and one of half a dozen companies to achieve such a valuation.
The move dealt a major blow to bipartisan efforts in Washington to rein in Big Tech. President Biden has placed critics of tech giants in key regulatory roles, including Lina Khan as FTC Chair, and is expected to issue broad mandates this week for federal agencies to address the issue of corporate concentration in the economy. Ms. Khan’s first major challenge as chairperson will be to rewrite the lawsuit to respond to the judge’s criticism.
In Congress, lawmakers have cited these decisions as proof that a century-old antitrust laws need updating for the Internet sector. Over the years, courts have narrowed their interpretation of antitrust laws, making it difficult to win government affairs. Last Week House The Judicial Committee introduced six bills this will lead to a revision of antitrust laws to loosen the grip of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google over the wider economy.
“Today’s developments in the FTC case against Facebook show that antitrust reform is urgently needed,” said spokesman Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican and co-author of antitrust bills. “Congress needs to provide our antitrust authorities with additional tools and resources to target large technology companies that engage in anticompetitive activities.”
Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, critic of Big Tech, said: on twitter that the court recognized “the enormous bargaining power of Facebook, but essentially shrugged.”
The decision also disappointed a growing cohort of activists who have pushed regulators to split up the largest tech companies. Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, an antitrust think tank, said she hoped the states would appeal the layoffs and the FTC would file a lawsuit again. But she said the judge’s ruling highlighted the need for Congress to update laws governing market concentration.
“Ideally, the courts would need some Congressional advice here, given that they play a somewhat over-the-top role in determining the outcome of antitrust cases,” she said. “Sometimes losses can be good because they can just exacerbate that need, and we hope that will serve that.”
This is a developing story. Keep for updates.
David McCabe made reporting.