The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday announced it's launching a new task force dedicated to monitoring the tech industry for anti-competitive practices. The task force will examine industry practices, conduct law enforcement investigations and review mergers -- both prospective and consummated tech mergers.
As part of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, the task force will comprise 17 staff attorneys, including attorneys with expertise in complex product and service markets and ecosystems, including the markets for online advertising, social networking, mobile operating systems and apps, and platform businesses. The team will also include Technology Fellow who can provide technical assistance and expertise.
"Technology markets, which are rapidly evolving and touch so many other sectors of the economy, raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement," Bureau Director Bruce Hoffman said in a statement. "By centralizing our expertise and attention, the new task force will be able to focus on these markets exclusively – ensuring they are operating pursuant to the antitrust laws, and taking action where they are not."
The creation of the task force comes as tech giants face more scrutiny for their size and market power both in the US and abroad.
Earlier this month, for instance, the German anti-trust office ruled that Facebook's use of services such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Analytics, and social buttons to collect data on users while away from the main site is illegal and should be prohibited for the sake of fair competition among tech companies.
In Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has put its spotlight on Google and Facebook, determining that the substantial market power of the two companies calls into question the validity of information that is available on their respective platforms.
Meanwhile, in the US, some consumer advocates and academics have recently suggested US regulatory agencies should more aggressively enforce anti-trust laws and even consider breaking up Facebook by forcing it to divest WhatsApp and Instagram.