Jun 20, 2018

FTC will examine tech platforms as part of competition review

FTC Chairman Joe Simons. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission will examine the questions surrounding powerful tech platforms like Google and Facebook as part of a review of consumer and competition policy issues beginning later this year.

Why it matters: Hearings into these issues, announced by FTC Chairman Joe Simons on Wednesday, could help frame the agency’s actions with regards to tech going forward.

What he’s saying: Simons indicated his examination of tech platforms would be broad and a major part of the review. “It’s the network effects,” he told reporters on Wednesday. "It’s the fact that they’re two-sided platforms. It’s the interaction between privacy and competition. And it’s all new, so it makes it very appropriate to have this be the subject of hearings and for us to get input on that."

The details: The public hearings will focus on a wide range of topics, including the implications for competition of big data and the “consumer welfare implications associated with the use of algorithmic decision tools, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics," the agency said.

  • Their focus will go beyond tech, including the overall state of the FTC's portfolio since a similar set of hearings in 1995.
  • The public will be able to submit comments to the agency throughout the process, which will start later this year and stretch into early 2019.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

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The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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Driving the news: With the original 15-day period that was announced March 16 about to end, officials around the country had been bracing for a premature call to return to normalcy from a president who's been venting lately that the prescription for containing the virus could be worse than the impacts of the virus itself.

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