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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

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

5 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."