Jul 14, 2022 - Technology

U.S. Chamber of Commerce sues the FTC

Photo illustration of FTC Chair Lina Khan and the scales of justice
Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued the Federal Trade Commission Thursday, the latest in a heated back-and-forth between the country's biggest business lobby and the government's consumer protection agency.

Driving the news: The Chamber filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the FTC for "its lack of transparency and accountability," per an announcement.

Why it matters: It's an aggressive move for the Chamber of Commerce to battle the FTC so directly, pressing back against chair Lina Khan's agenda and the Biden administration's broader antitrust push.

What they're saying: "The FTC is pursuing an aggressive agenda with far-reaching implications for American businesses and the economy," U.S. Chamber president Suzanne P. Clark said in the announcement. "It is bypassing longstanding norms to expansively regulate industries and manage our economy with a government-knows-best approach."

Details: The lawsuit seeks the release of a number of materials from the FTC under the Freedom of Information Act.

  • The Chamber wants information about the FTC practice of counting votes from former commissioners, communications with the European Commission regarding certain mergers, and the employment status of Khan while she worked as a "legal fellow" for former Commissioner Rohit Chopra.

Context: The Chamber thinks the FTC under Khan has created confusion in the business community about mergers and business practices, and that it has pushed new, unvetted policies and circumvented regular process to get the results it wants.

  • Previously, the Chamber, which counts the country's biggest companies, including tech, as members, sought to delay confirmation of FTC commissioner Alvaro Bedoya.

The other side: FTC leadership had said it intends to invigorate an agency often perceived as toothless and combat what it sees as unlawful consolidation that hurts consumers.

  • Khan, who made a name for herself for popularizing newer ideas about antitrust in digital markets, wants large companies to be on watch.
  • The FTC didn't immediately return a request for comment.
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