Attorney General Becerra: We Must Be Forward-Thinking in Antitrust Regulation and Enforcement

Thursday, October 11, 2018
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Multistate Coalition Submits Comment to Federal Trade Commission on Future of Antitrust Protections 

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with a coalition of 12 state attorneys general, yesterday presented recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to advance antitrust enforcement and consumer protection. The attorneys general submitted the comment letter as part of the FTC’s public hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. The hearings focus on whether broad-based changes are required for the enforcement of consumer protections. In the letter, the multistate coalition offered perspective on the status of antitrust enforcement issues, including potential threats and new opportunities.

“As technology and the economy change, so too should our methods of antitrust enforcement and regulation,” said Attorney General Becerra. “State Attorneys General are the boots on the ground of antitrust enforcement, and we’re bringing California’s strong track record of innovative consumer protection to the table in these discussions. Together, we can achieve our collective goals to strengthen competition and consumer protection.”

In the letter, the coalition offers recommendations on how to strengthen regulation in seven key antitrust areas, including:

  • Competition and consumer protection in communications, technology, and digital networks;
  • Identification and measurement of market power, barriers to entry, and the evolution of collusive, exclusionary, or predatory conduct;
  • Intersection between privacy, big data, and competition, as well as harms arising from the collection of data by large firms controlling much of the market;
  • Evaluation of the competitive effects of corporate acquisitions and mergers;
  • Evidence and analysis of markets controlled primarily by one buyer;
  • The role of intellectual property and competition policy in promoting innovation; and consumer welfare associated with the use of algorithmic decision, artificial intelligence, and predictive analysis. 

Attorney General Becerra is at the forefront of consumer protection and antitrust enforcement. Most recently, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of states to oppose Bayer AG’s $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto Company, a deal that would make Bayer the largest seed company in the world. In 2018, Attorney General Becerra filed a lawsuit against Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in northern California, for anticompetitive practices that would result in higher prices for Californians. In 2017, the Attorney General worked with the FTC to challenge a merger of FanDuel and DraftKings, two of the largest entities in the daily fantasy sports industry. The companies abandoned the merger in response to the challenge. That same year, Attorney General Becerra successfully blocked a proposed asset sale between Valero Energy Corporation and Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. that would have led to higher gas prices for consumers in California. In addition, the California Department of Justice in 2014 secured a nearly $4 million settlement with eBay over allegations the company violated state anticompetitive laws by making a “no-poach” agreement with Intuit between 2006 and 2009.

 A copy of the letter can be found here.

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