How FTC Commissioner Slaughter Wants To Make Antitrust Enforcement Antiracist

By Lauren Feiner, CNBC

Like workers across America, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter has been thinking this summer about how to make her workplace antiracist. She was on maternity leave as the country erupted in unrest, demanding an end to racial injustice in protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. 

Unlike many workers, however, Slaughter’s decisions can have a substantial impact on consumers around the country as one of five commissioners on the Federal Trade Commission. In that role, Slaughter, a Democrat, votes on enforcement actions and policies involving consumer protection and competition.

During her tenure, the FTC has fined tech companies including Facebook and Google over allegations the companies misused users’ data. The agency is currently investigating Facebook on antitrust grounds and has reportedly interviewed Amazon sellers about the firm’s competition practices.

In an interview Thursday, Slaughter expanded on a series of tweets she sent earlier this month describing the ways she believed the FTC could take steps to ensure greater equity in its enforcement decisions.

Slaughter told CNBC she had long found it “bizarre” that antitrust enforcement in the U.S. has often striven to be “value-neutral.” She emphasized that whether the FTC chooses to bring an enforcement action or not, it will have consequences on consumers within existing structures, making it impossible for enforcement to be truly neutral. 

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