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Justice Department cartel boss wants to “decouple” tech monopolists

The Justice Department’s top antitrust officer said he wants to “decouple” monopolistic big-tech firms and brought home his support for a stalled Congressional bill designed to rein in Google, Amazon, Meta and Apple during a fiery speech on Friday.

Jonathan Kanter, the Biden-appointed assistant attorney general who heads the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said US regulators have previously taken a “whack-a-mole” approach to monopolistic behavior by big tech companies.

“Nobody ever really wins this game — the moles just keep coming,” Kanter said. “To prevent them from popping up, you really need to unplug the machine. In the same way, enforcers must turn off the monopolization machine in the digital platform industries.”

Speaking at the Fordham University Conference on International Law and Policy in Manhattan, Kanter urged US antitrust authorities to take a far more aggressive approach to enforcing existing laws.

“The digital economy has enabled monopoly power of a kind and magnitude that has never before existed in our country,” Kanter told an audience at Fordham Law School that included many attorneys defending tech firms against regulators like him .

FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, also speaking at the conference on Friday, called the antitrust legislation in Congress
FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, also speaking at the conference on Friday, called the antitrust legislation in Congress “an extremely healthy development” although it continued to falter.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The law, co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and passed by the Senate Judiciary in January, would ban big tech companies from selling their products to competitors preferred in the search results. For example, Amazon may not favor its Amazon Basics products over its competitors.

Kanter, who did not name companies but spoke more broadly about Big Tech, also reiterated the US Department of Justice’s support for America’s Innovation and Choice Online Act, which remains stalled in Congress.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has said he supports the law but has not put it to a vote, although Klobuchar and Grassley have insisted for months that they have the votes to pass it. Big tech enemies have accused Schumer of holding back the bill, while Schumer insists he waits until it has enough votes.

Before joining the Justice Department in July 2021, Kanter represented Google’s rivals and critics, including Microsoft, Yelp and the New York Post’s parent company, News Corp.

Before Kanter’s speech, he greeted EU Competition Commissioner Margethe Vestager with a kiss on the cheek.

Vestager spoke at the conference after scoring a major win against Google as a European court ruled on the search giant’s appeal of a record-breaking $4 billion fine for curbing competition and limiting consumer choice through the dominance of its Android mobile Operating system largely rejected.

Two other senior antitrust officials in the Biden administration also spoke on Friday.

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan called the antitrust legislation in Congress “an extremely healthy development,” while White House economic adviser Tim Wu called on lawmakers to better fund the FTC and the Justice Department.

“Authorities are embroiled in extremely complicated, resource-intensive and expert-intensive litigation that is draining their pockets,” Wu said.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/16/justice-department-antitrust-chief-wants-to-unplug-tech-monopolists/ Justice Department cartel boss wants to “decouple” tech monopolists

JACLYN DIAZ

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