Darth is coming, beware!!! – or maybe 2 Darths

The charming NYT:

F.T.C. Hearings Add to Efforts That Threaten Tech Industry – The F.T.C. hearings, the first of 15 to 20 over the next several months, are one of several efforts underway on the federal and state level that threaten to limit the expansion and power of tech companies. Later this month, Congress will bring executives from top tech companies to testify on proposals for privacy laws. The Justice Department has warned it may start investigations into whether Google and other social media sites are biased against conservative voices.

The field of antitrust law has focused for 30 years on whether prices increase when there is limited competition. Some academics and consumer groups have called for regulators to rethink that gauge. Amazon and Google, they say, defy that metric of antitrust law because the companies are gaining power even as they offer cheap or free goods.

One proponent of this change of thinking, Lina Khan, is an assistant to a Democratic commissioner at the F.T.C. Her focus on Amazon has been buoyed by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, who has criticized the company and its chief executive, Jeff Bezos, for contributing to income inequality.

“The issue about Amazon is not just that the wealthiest person on earth, Jeff Bezos, is paying workers unlivable wages. It’s about the ‘new economy’ and the degradation of the human spirit — breaking down people, spitting them out and simply replacing them with new bodies,” Mr. Sanders said last week in a Twitter post.

Amazon has disputed Mr. Sanders’s accusations, saying the company offers stable pay and benefits for its employees. It has also disputed concerns the company has violated antitrust laws, saying it does not have a dominant market share of the retail market. (Yeah, right!)

Janet L. McDavid, a panelist at the F.T.C. hearing and a lawyer at Hogan Lovells, said simply going after companies because they were big was dangerous. The “amorphous” concepts of big and fair in antitrust law could lend itself to political decisions, Ms. McDavid said. “Which we certainly should eschew, especially now in the current political environment”

Nice video you’ve got there Google. An FTC inquiry is fine, but we’re waiting for the SEC to tackle companies with a trillion dollars of market cap making obviously false press releases and public statements. That should be fun.

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