Sens. Lee, Klobuchar Announce Hearing on Digital Platform Mergers

September 3, 2019

WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, will hold a subcommittee hearing September 24th examining concerns relating to acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors by digital platforms.

“Acquisitions of nascent or potential competitors by dominant digital platforms can be pro-competitive, but they also run the risk of eliminating the very competition that may challenge the incumbent firm’s leading position in the future,” Sen. Lee said.

“We are holding this hearing to gain a better understanding of the various concerns raised by these transactions and to examine how the antitrust agencies analyze such mergers. In addition to the hearing, the Subcommittee also is interested in soliciting input from policy analysts, market participants, and other stakeholders on whether legislative action relating to such mergers is needed to ensure digital markets remain competitive,” Sen. Lee finished.

“This is an important hearing. In recent years we have seen a record number of mergers that have raised serious competition issues,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “Big technology companies have become some of the most powerful organizations in the world. They face little competition and there are numerous examples of the companies purchasing startup competitors in various lines of business. These companies’ practices can limit options for consumers, distort prices, and stifle innovation. With virtually no meaningful pushback from our government, these companies have reshaped the meaning of American privacy, the purchasing of goods and services, and the workings of our elections and our democracy.”

“To respond to these concerns I have continually advocated for (1) changes to our laws; (2) aggressive enforcement of the laws on the books; and (3) adequate funding for the FTC and DOJ antitrust division. I will be asking questions about the effects of tech company mergers on competition and steps to address these problems,” Klobuchar finished.

The hearing, along with the oversight hearing on September 17th with representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division, will explore issues relating to competition in technology markets and the antitrust agencies’ efforts to root out anticompetitive conduct.