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FTC Is Reviewing Big Tech’s Smaller Deals

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff members are due to present the outcome of a review of Big Tech deals that were too small to warrant antitrust review.

As Reuters reported on Wednesday (Sept. 15), the FTC is set to begin hearing about acquisitions performed by companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook between 2010 and 2019.

The agency has already filed suit against Facebook, accusing the social media giant of violating antitrust law. The FTC has asked the court to overturn Facebook’s deals with Instagram and WhatsApp, both of which had been reviewed by the commission.

Read more: Facebook Hit With Amended FTC Anti-Competition Complaint

As PYMNTS reported last month, the FTC alleges that Facebook’s acquisition of these two platforms violated antitrust laws.

In an amended version of its complaint, the FTC said Facebook failed to provide another avenue for its mobile features. Instead, the company “resorted to an illegal buy-or-bury scheme to maintain its dominance,” the filing said.

The FTC alleges that Facebook bought rivals that exceeded its own tech capabilities, persuading app developers to work for them, and then “buried them when they became competitive threats.” This lack of rivals allowed Facebook to capitalize on a “surveillance-based advertising model,” the FTC said, which put even more hurdles in front of its users.

“Facebook lacked the business acumen and technical talent to survive the transition to mobile. After failing to compete with new innovators, Facebook illegally bought or buried them when their popularity became an existential threat,” FTC Bureau of Competition Acting Director Holly Vedova said last month.

Wednesday’s FTC meeting will also likely see the commissioners vote to do away with Trump-era guidelines overseeing vertical deals, in which a company is combined with one of its suppliers, replacing them with more stringent regulations.

As Reuters noted, the FTC rarely intervenes in these deals, but did so recently in the case of the biotech firm Illumina’s bid to buy Grail, one of its subsidiaries. Both companies hope to market a blood test that diagnoses multiple cancer types.

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