The Federal Trade Commission which has historically worked its will through lawsuits and settlements, is flexing its rulemaking muscle.
That is because acting FTC chair Rebecca Kelly Slaughter has created a rulemaking group within the Office of General Counsel.
Historically, the FTC has used its rulemaking authority primarily to review existing rules, rather than come up with new ones, but that could be about to change.
The FTC has been pushed by Congress to become more active on issues like privacy reining in Big Tech in other ways.
The new structure will allow the FTC to take a strategic and harmonized approach to rulemaking across its different authorities and mission areas," the FTC announced. "With this new group in place, the FTC is poised to strengthen existing rules and to undertake new rulemakings to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition."
Slaughter said that she believed the FTC can use its current authority "to deliver effective deterrence for the novel harms of the digital economy and persistent old scams alike."
She said in an increasingly concentrated economy (digital giants like Facebook and Google are arguably poster companies for that power), it is time for the FTC "to activate its unfair methods of competition rulemaking authority," something the new rulemaking group will be exploring.
Sen Any Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chairs the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and has advocated for more muscular action from the FTC, was pleased.
“Over the years, the FTC’s reluctance to use its rulemaking authority represents a missed opportunity," she said in a statement. "That is why the announcement that the FTC is forming a new group dedicated to competition and consumer protection rulemaking is a welcome development. As Congress considers proposals to increase agency funding, update our antitrust laws, and strengthen consumer privacy, our enforcers must use every tool currently at their disposal to protect competition and consumers. This announcement represents an important step in the right direction.”
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