The Federal Trade Commission will hold a series of public hearings during the fall and winter 2018 examining whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies, or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection law, enforcement priorities, and policy. The PDF version of this content includes footnotes and sources.
Influence of the Pitofsky Hearings
The hearings will be similar in form and structure to the Global Competition and Innovation Hearings undertaken in 1995 during the Chairmanship of Robert Pitofsky. The Pitofsky Hearings were the first major step in establishing the FTC as a key modern center for competition policy research and development and sought to articulate recommendations that would effectively ensure the competitiveness of U.S. markets without imposing unnecessary costs on private parties or governmental processes.
The Pitofsky hearings re-energized one of the FTC’s most valuable functions – to gather leaders in business, economics, law, and related disciplines to discuss tough, emerging problems and prepare public reports on the facts, issues, governing law, and the need, as appropriate, for change.
Purpose of the hearings and public comments
The hearings and public comment process will provide opportunities for FTC staff and leadership to listen to interested persons and outside experts representing a broad and diverse range of viewpoints. Additionally, the hearings will stimulate thoughtful internal and external evaluation of the FTC’s near- and long-term law enforcement and policy agenda. The hearings may identify areas for enforcement and policy guidance, including improvements to the agency’s investigation and law enforcement processes, as well as areas that warrant additional study.
The FTC has always been committed to self-examination and critical thinking, to ensure that our enforcement and policy efforts keep pace with changes in the economy.”
FTC Chairman Joe Simons, June 20, 2018
The Commission will invite public comment in stages throughout the term of the hearings.
- Through August 20, 2018, the Commission will accept public comment on the topics identified in the announcement. Each topic description includes issues of particular interest to the Commission, but comments need not be restricted to these subjects.
- Additionally, the Commission will invite comments on the topic of each hearing session. The FTC will issue a news release before each session to inform the public of the agenda, the date and location, and instructions on submitting comments.
- The Commission will also invite public comment upon completion of the entire series of hearings.
Public comments may address one or more of the above topics generally, or may address them with respect to a specific industry, such as the health care, high-tech, or energy industries. Any additional topics for comment will be identified in later notices.
The hearings will begin in September 2018 and are expected to continue through January 2019, and will consist of 15 to 20 public sessions. All hearings will be webcast, transcribed, and placed on the public record.
In advance of these hearings, public comments on any of the following topics may be submitted to the FTC: ?
- The state of antitrust and consumer protection law and enforcement, and their development, since the Pitofsky hearings;
- Competition and consumer protection issues in communication, information and media technology networks;
- The identification and measurement of market power and entry barriers, and the evaluation of collusive, exclusionary, or predatory conduct or conduct that violates the consumer protection statutes enforced by the FTC, in markets featuring “platform” businesses;
- The intersection between privacy, big data, and competition;
- The Commission’s remedial authority to deter unfair and deceptive conduct in privacy and data security matters;
- Evaluating the competitive effects of corporate acquisitions and mergers;
- Evidence and analysis of monopsony power, including but not limited to, in labor markets;
- The role of intellectual property and competition policy in promoting innovation;
- The consumer welfare implications associated with the use of algorithmic decision tools, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics;
- The interpretation and harmonization of state and federal statutes and regulations that prohibit unfair and deceptive acts and practices; and
- The agency’s investigation, enforcement and remedial processes.
- FTC Announces Hearings On Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century (press release, June 20, 2018)
- Prepared Remarks of Chairman Joe Simons Announcing the Competition and Consumer Protection Hearings (June 20, 2018)
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Office of Policy Planning
Office of Policy Planning