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

by Pete Sepp / /

(Alexandria, VA) -- Separate hearings this week by the HouseJudiciary Committee and one of its Subcommittees should be the start of a majoreffort to investigate and reform the federal government’s overzealous antitrustactions, especially those against high-tech firms. That’s the advice from the362,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) based on the group’s long historyof experience with federal policy toward business competition and its effectson taxpayers as well as the economy. The group addressed its comments to theSubcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet, whichheld a hearing on antitrust agencies, and the full Judiciary Committee, whichhad proceedings on Department of Justice (DoJ) oversight.

The comments, written by NTU Executive Vice President PeteSepp, noted that  “recent actions on the part of theDepartment of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against firms suchas Google could endanger the prospects of an economic recovery, all whiledraining taxpayer resources that could be better utilized for deficit reductionor core program priorities. “

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC), in collaboration withDoJ, has initiated an investigation of Google’s search engine, an undertakingSepp called “the most blatant manifestation” of what appears to be anotherround of regulatory excess. Claiming vast latitude under Section 5 of the FTCAct, regulators are pursuing what NTU believes to be a problematic case againstGoogle – 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 manycompetitors in a highly fluid market.

NTU urgedJudiciary Committee Members to review if the FTC and DoJ are truly operating withintheir intended role in pursuing action against Google, and to review thenegative impacts of this type of overreach on consumers, businesses, andtaxpayers. 

“While manyfiscal and regulatory reforms can help to bolster such confidence, one highlypositive signal that Washington could send to innovators would be a reformeffort to establish affirmative boundaries on federal policy towardcompetition,” the NTU letter concluded.

NTU has a long history ofadvocating for a sensible federal approach toward economic competition thatcarefully limits interventions in the marketplace to clear and imminent casesof direct harm to consumers. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, NTU was aleading grassroots participant in the antitrust debate from the conservativecommunity. For more information on NTU’s antitrust and technology work, visit www.ntu.org.