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FTC Commissioner Says Fines Aren’t Enough For Big Tech

DATE POSTED:September 13, 2019

Rohit Chopra, a commissioner with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), said that fining Big Tech companies won’t have any real effect on changing the way they run and that more may need to be done, according to a report by CNBC.

“We’re not going to solve some of these problems just by small-time fines that aren’t going to change the underlying business model of these firms,” he said. “We actually have to take a hard look at whether these behemoths are killing off innovation and competition.”

Chopra voted against the recent $170 million fine of YouTube, as well as Facebook’s $5 billion fine. Facebook is also being investigated by the FTC in an antitrust probe.

There are government-wide investigations into Big Tech companies, as last week attorneys general across the U.S. said they were going to start investigating Facebook.

Google is facing a similar issue, not only from attorneys general but also from regulators in the European Union. Chopra applauded the effort to have “all hands on deck.”

“We have to act if we see that they are breaking the law,” he said.

Amazon is also in the FTC’s crosshairs. The Commission is reportedly interviewing small merchants and sellers. The House Judiciary Committee recently requested some documents from Facebook, Apple and Google in yet another probe into the industry.

Also in the mix is the Justice Department, which is conducting an antitrust probe of its own.

It’s not just organizations that are sounding alarm bells. Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has promised to break up Big Tech, and has made it a resounding call on the campaign trail. Tech investor Alan Patricof also expressed concern that tech companies were getting too big.

Chopra said that despite laws written before these companies existed, there are still things that can be done. “When those investigations conclude that there is anticompetitive conduct, the courts can award divestitures and significant remedies that really make sure those business models are not choking off competition and innovation,” he noted.