Today, U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) sent letters to Federal Trade Commission Acting Chair (FTC) Rebecca Slaughter and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) calling for a public Judiciary Hearing into recent revelations that the Obama-Biden FTC failed to enforce antitrust law in an 2011 investigation of Google and instead let the company off with a slap on the wrist. The senators call for testimony from Google executives and relevant FTC officials, including the former Commissioners who now represent big tech firms.
“In 2011, I was one of the few voices in Congress questioning Google’s business practices. Based on recent revelations, it appears I was right, and the FTC dropped the ball. All while Google executives enjoyed unprecedented access to the Obama White House,” said Sen. Lee. “The American people deserve answers from the FTC about its handling of the investigation, and from Google about whether it used political influence to shield its quest for monopoly power. I look forward to working with Chairman Durbin to hold everyone responsible to account.”
The senators wrote in part:
“The FTC’s inaction has had broad-sweeping implications for our economy, our culture, and our democracy. In the intervening years, Google has amassed—and exploited—an ever-growing market share in search and digital advertising and smartphones, and has used these dominant positions to make inroads into other product lines and services. As distressing as these consequences may be, the FTC’s inaction has had consequences far beyond the actions and market power of a single firm. The FTC’s failure to enforce the nation’s antitrust laws signaled to similarly dominant market participants, in tech or elsewhere, that compliance is optional. In other words, lax enforcement of our laws encourages lawlessness. Regulators responsible for this era of underenforcement, which has resulted in unprecedented economic concentration, must be held to account, on the record.”
Read the full letter text to Senator Durbin here and to FTC Acting Chair Slaughter here.