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Press Release


Citizen Group Warns Congressional Panels: Economy Imperiled by DoJ, FTC Actions against Tech Firms, Google

For Immediate Release December 9, 2011
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700

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(Alexandria, VA) -- Separate hearings this week by the House Judiciary Committee and one of its Subcommittees should be the start of a major effort to investigate and reform the federal government’s overzealous antitrust actions, especially those against high-tech firms. That’s the advice from the 362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) based on the group’s long history of experience with federal policy toward business competition and its effects on taxpayers as well as the economy. The group addressed its comments to the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, which held a hearing on antitrust agencies, and the full Judiciary Committee, which had proceedings on Department of Justice (DoJ) oversight.

The comments, written by NTU Executive Vice President Pete Sepp, noted that  “recent actions on the part of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against firms such as Google could endanger the prospects of an economic recovery, all while draining taxpayer resources that could be better utilized for deficit reduction or core program priorities. “

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC), in collaboration with DoJ, has initiated an investigation of Google’s search engine, an undertaking Sepp called “the most blatant manifestation” of what appears to be another round of regulatory excess. Claiming vast latitude under Section 5 of the FTC Act, regulators are pursuing what NTU believes to be a problematic case against Google – one which could mean altering search results to fit federal dictates. Their flawed reasoning for such encroachment involves “contrived ‘anti-competitive ’offenses,” according to the letter, even though the search giant has many competitors in a highly fluid market.

NTU urged Judiciary Committee Members to review if the FTC and DoJ are truly operating within their intended role in pursuing action against Google, and to review the negative impacts of this type of overreach on consumers, businesses, and taxpayers. 

“While many fiscal and regulatory reforms can help to bolster such confidence, one highly positive signal that Washington could send to innovators would be a reform effort to establish affirmative boundaries on federal policy toward competition,” the NTU letter concluded.

NTU has a long history of advocating for a sensible federal approach toward economic competition that carefully limits interventions in the marketplace to clear and imminent cases of direct harm to consumers. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, NTU was a leading grassroots participant in the antitrust debate from the conservative community. For more information on NTU’s antitrust and technology work, visit www.ntu.org.