In a recent public comment addressed to the United States Copyright Office, the Federal Trade Commission seemingly expanded upon remarks made at the National Advertising Division back in September that it will aggressively and proactively challenge alleged unfair practices involving artificial intelligence, even if that means stretching the meaning of “unfair” to increase its jurisdiction over such matters.
While speaking at the annual conference of the National Advertising Division on September 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a generative AI (“AI”) policy that is consistent with Chairwoman Khan’s focus on the perceived harms to consumers from large technology companies, fully embracing a plan to regulate AI swiftly, aggressively, and proactively.
The agency began its remarks on AI by observing that its purported policy decision to allow technology companies to self-regulate during the “Web 2.0” era was a mistake. Self-regulation, according to the FTC, was a failure that ultimately resulted in the collection of too much power and too much data by a handful of large technology companies.
In July, Instagram’s parent company Meta Platforms, Inc. (“Meta”) agreed to a $68.5 million class-action biometric privacy settlement in connection with the company’s alleged violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, 740 ILCS 14/1, et seq. (BIPA).
Under the Clayton Act (15 U.S. Code § 18), certain business acquisitions are prohibited where “the effect of such acquisition may be substantially to lessen competition, or to tend to create a monopoly.” Long-standing jurisprudence has established that merger challenges require, at the outset, a prima facie showing of the likelihood of a substantial lessoning of competition that would result from the merger or acquisition. Such prima facie showing typically takes the form of claims and evidence related to market shares above a certain level, but can take other forms.
“Mark my words: Change is coming. Laws are coming.” That was the warning David Cicilline (D-RI) – the House Judiciary Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman – gave on February 25th at the first in a series of hearings following the Subcommittee’s 16-month probe into Big Tech’s gatekeeping power. This one, titled Reviving Competition, Part 1: Proposals to Address Gatekeeper Power and Lower Barriers to Entry Online, focused on three proposed reforms: interoperability and data portability requirements, nondiscrimination rules, and structural separation. The majority of the hearing witnesses, ranging from the CEO of Mapbox to the Director the Competition Advocacy Program at the Global Antitrust Institute, were clear supporters for these proposed reforms. While none are new ideas, each, if passed, would be a significant sea change in competition law.
The Sherman Act was passed in 1890. The Clayton Act in 1914. And they have hardly changed since. Last month, Senator Amy Klobuchar, the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, proposed an overhaul of the antitrust laws: CLERA, the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act. If passed, CLERA would constitute the most significant change to antitrust law in a least a generation. In particular, it would also pose substantial new antitrust concerns for technology companies seeking to engage in what have been standard mergers and acquisitions.