Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) proposed a plan Monday to strip the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of its independence and relocate it to the Department of Justice in an effort to limit corruption and effectively police antitrust in the technology sector.
“The FTC isn’t working,” Hawley said in a statement. “It wastes time in turf wars with the DOJ, nobody is accountable for decisions, and it lacks the ‘teeth’ to get after Big Tech’s rampant abuses. Congress needs to do something about it.”
Hawley’s proposal includes replacing the five-member commission which currently oversees the FTC with a Senate-confirmed director, who would serve renewable five-year terms underneath the DOJ’s Associate Attorney General.
It also calls for clearly separating roles between the commission and the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, with the DOJ assuming “all authority” to review mergers and acquisitions. The FTC would establish a new “digital markets research section” to assist potential DOJ litigation. The commission would also be tasked with enforcing interoperability, data portability, and data minimization for tech firms, as well as penalties for first-time offenders.
Hawley also attempts to tackle ethical violations in his proposal by limiting the “revolving-door relationships” between former senior FCC officials and tech companies. The proposal includes a two-year ban on lobbying for any former official with companies grossing over $30 billion in annual revenue.
The plan closely mirrors that of Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) who released as part of her presidential platform in October a plan to “slam shut the revolving door between government and giant, dominant firms.”
Warren’s plan includes a four-year ban on lobbying for “giant corporations, banks, and market-dominant companies” by former government officials.