FTC targets tech with new antitrust team

"Man Controlling Trade" statue at the FTC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo: Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it was setting up a task force that could review already-approved tech mergers.

Why it matters: It reflects a new level of federal scrutiny for a tech sector dominated by companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon — each of which made major acquisitions along the way to becoming a giant.

Details:

  • The agency said the group of lawyers will monitor "competition in U.S. technology markets, investigating any potential anticompetitive conduct in those markets, and taking enforcement actions when warranted."
  • It also said the move would include "prospective merger reviews in the technology sector and reviews of consummated technology mergers," raising the possibility that earlier Silicon Valley deals could come under the microscope again.

Yes, but: The FTC has been criticized as not doing enough to check corporate power to occur, and regulators are constrained by U.S. antitrust law that makes it hard to accuse a company of hurting competition with a free product.

What's next

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Why it matters: Nine days before the Iowa caucuses, Elizabeth Warren’s support among polled Democrats has declined from 21% to 11% since an ABC News/WashPost poll in October.

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Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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The latest: Andrew Yang on Jan. 26 became the seventh Democrat to qualify for the February debate after polling above 5% in UNH/CNN's New Hampshire survey, his fourth qualifying poll.

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