Monday, November 15, 2021

Financial Management Office: FTC Operations

  • The FTC issued its Fiscal Year 2021 Agency Financial Report outlining financial and high-level performance results and highlighting recent agency accomplishments. The 98-page report also contains an overview of the agency’s mission and organization, an independent auditor’s report of the FTC’s 2020 and 2021 financial statements, and the Office of the Inspector General’s assessment of the FTC’s top management and performance challenges.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Bureau of Competition: Collaboration with DOJ Antitrust Division

  • FTC Chair Lina Khan issued a brief statement congratulating Jonathan Kanter on his confirmation as Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. She noted that the FTC and DOJ Antitrust Division are “critical partners in vigorously enforcing the antitrust laws” and wrote that she looked forward to working together “to target unlawful mergers and monopolistic conduct and to promote open markets and economic opportunity.” The U.S. Senate confirmed Kanter by a 68-29 vote, with three abstentions.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Competition and Consumer Protection: Oil and Gas Industry

  • President Biden, following up on a request made in August, asked the FTC to investigate possible “illegal conduct” in the oil and gas markets. The President’s letter cited ongoing elevated retail gas prices and noted that the FTC could use its authority to instigate an “open study investigation” into how companies set gas prices. An FTC spokesperson responded that the agency was concerned about the issues raised in the White House’s letter and was looking into the situation.

Competition and Privacy: FTC Operations

  • President Biden’s nominee for FTC Commissioner to replace Rohit Chopra, Georgetown University Law Center Professor Alvaro Bedoya, testified before the Senate Commerce Committee. His opening remarks focused on his history as a member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy and as director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University. In his testimony, Mr. Bedoya expressed a desire to help small business owners “who are struggling to compete on the merits” and endorsed expanding the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to include children ages 13-15 and for a potential rulemaking related to data protection. He also fielded questions about facial recognition technology and, while he expressed support for these technologies, Mr. Bedoya opined that such technologies “need greater scrutiny.”

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Bureau of Competition and Bureau of Consumer Protection: Criminal Referrals

  • The FTC voted 4-0 to approve a policy statement expanding its criminal referral program in its efforts to deter corporate crime. While the FTC’s power is limited to civil enforcement, the agency has a long history of collaboration with criminal authorities at the Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies. The new policy is designed to further improve the FTC’s cooperation with criminal law enforcement entities regarding consumer protection and competition criminal violations, by (1) publicly reporting on the FTC’s criminal referral efforts; (2) developing guidelines to ensure that staff identify and promptly refer possible violations to law enforcement; and (3) convening regular meetings with criminal authorities at federal, state, and local levels to facilitate coordination. In addition to the joint statement, three commissioners issued separate statements regarding the new policy, available here (Chair Khan), here (Commissioner Slaughter), and here (Commissioner Wilson).

Friday, November 19, 2021

Office of Policy Planning: FTC Operations

  • FTC Chair Lina Khan announced five new appointments in agency leadership positions. Four of the new hires – Olivier Sylvain, Meredith Whittaker, Amba Kak, and Sarah Myers West – will work with the FTC’s Chief Technology Officer as part of an informal AI Strategy Group, with a focus on emerging technology issues. The other appointment, John Kwoka, will serve as Chief Economist to the Chair, and will work with competition economists and attorneys on an updated approach to merger review policies.