Senator Proposes Making The FTC Part Of The DOJ To Take on Big Tech

On Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) published a new plan to remake the Federal Trade Commission with an eye toward reining in big tech companies, reported CNBC. 
“The FTC has stood by as major corporations have consolidated their power and stifled competition,” Hawley writes in the paper. “The agency as presently constituted is in no shape to ensure competition in today’s markets, let alone tomorrow’s.”
The FTC currently operates as an independent agency charged with regulating consumer protection issues and enforcing federal antitrust law. It’s steered by five commissioners who vote on rules and cases. No more than three commissioners can be from the same party. The DOJ, on the other hand, is part of the executive branch, making it accountable to the president.
Hawley’s proposal would blow up that structure, relegating the FTC to becoming a division of the DOJ and transferring all antitrust and merger review authority to the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. Instead of five commissioners, the FTC would have a single director who would need to be confirmed by the Senate every five years and report directly to the attorney general.
“The FTC isn’t working,” Hawley said in a statement. “It wastes time in turf wars with the DOJ, nobody is accountable for decisions, and it lacks the ‘teeth’ to get after Big Tech’s rampant abuses.”
Under the current antitrust enforcement structure, the FTC and DOJ Antitrust Division go through a process known as clearance in which each agency signs off on the other taking on a particular case. Cases are typically cleared to the agency that has the most expertise in the relevant field. The FTC typically takes hospital merger cases, for example, because of its extensive experience reviewing them.
Read the full plan here.