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London protestors in April. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty

On the first day of much-awaited hearings before the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, a series of speakers mocked Big Tech critics as populists peddling unmoored theories for guaranteeing a fair market for consumers.

What's going on: Today's FTC hearing came as public and political leaders in the U.S. and Europe are grappling with the sudden recognition of the immense commercial, political and social power held by tech giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

On both continents, the companies face the potential for stiff regulation. But most of today's speakers belittled proposals to regulate the companies, with some suggesting that it is not clear that they hold too much market power, or even what a tech business is.

  • "An amorphous concept of bigness and fairness would lead to politically motivated enforcement" of anti-trust laws, said Janet McDavid, a leading anti-trust lawyer based in Washington, D.C.
  • She said proposals she has seen are "poorly designed to attack social issues" that would be better addressed elsewhere, such as by legislators.
  • Timothy Muris, a former FTC chairman and now a professor at George Mason University, said regulation would protect "less-efficient businesses," adding, "We've been down the populist road before."

The criticism appeared at least in part aimed at a much-circulated paper by Lina Khan, a recent Yale Law School graduate who recently was hired by the FTC. Khan's paper challenged the underpinning of current anti-trust law, and argued that it fails to address unique market challenges posed by Amazon.

The paper helped to galvanize the current debate around regulating the Big Tech companies.

Go deeper

Neera Tanden withdraws nomination for Office of Management and Budget director

Neera Tanden testifying before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington, D.C., in February 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Neera Tanden withdrew her name from nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget after several senators voiced opposition and concern about her qualifications and past combative tweets, President Biden announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: Tanden’s decision to pull her nomination marks Biden's first setback in filling out his Cabinet with a thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

What's ahead for the newest female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but is newly growing — and their tasks are huge.

What's going on: Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank. Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for more than a century.

3 hours ago - Health

Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300 million adults by end of May

President Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday said that ramped-up coronavirus vaccine production will provide enough doses for 300 million Americans by the end May.

Why it matters: That's two months sooner than Biden's previous promise of enough vaccines for all American adults by the end of July.