DOJ’s Kanter & FTC’s Khan Promise Stricter Merger Review

US antitrust chiefs voiced support for an American crackdown on gatekeeper tech giants a week after the European Union reached a deal reining in the likes of Google and Meta Platforms, reported Bloomberg.

Jonathan Kanter, the head of the Justice Department’s (DOJ) antitrust division, speaking during a conference in Brussels Thursday, said acquisitions of nascent rivals by larger players should be closely scrutinized because such deals over time risk weakening competition in the economy.

“The plain text of our merger laws in the United States demand that we have aggressive enforcement against acquisitions by firms that already possess a dominant position,” Kanter said.

Kanter is among a number of recent personnel choices who most observers have interpreted as signaling the Biden administration’s eagerness to regulate the tech industry, after the companies have flourished for years seemingly without limits or oversight. 

The US has lagged Europe in creating a tougher environment for digital behemoths. Last week, the European Union agreed on a sweeping slate of rules on how tech giants can operate in the bloc known as the Digital Markets Act.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan called the law “a landmark proposal to promote fair access to markets controlled by digital gatekeepers.”

DOJ and FTC officials have recently worked on revamping the US’s decades-old Vertical and Horizontal Merger guidelines, in efforts to adjust the rules to the rapidly changing realities of modern digital economies.

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