Collins statement on antitrust agencies’ perspectives on tech hearing

In Local Area News

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, gave the following opening statement at today’s hearing, “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 4: Perspectives of the Antitrust Agencies.”

Below are the remarks as prepared.

Ranking Member Collins: Thank you, Chairman Cicilline and Ranking Member Sensenbrenner, for holding this hearing. 

This subcommittee’s antitrust investigation has been one of the bright spots on the committee’s agenda this term. The importance of digital technology to our constituents’ lives grows every day. The tech sector is one of the greatest forces for innovation and wealth creation in the world and our economy. Rarely in history have we witnessed such a transformative change in how we go about our lives.

Much of that change is very much for the good, but not all. Among these changes are the ways that companies compete — both fairly and unfairly — to provide goods and services to consumers.

It is therefore critical that we work on a bipartisan basis to understand whether our current antitrust laws and our antitrust enforcement agencies are up to the task the tech sector presents.

We will have accomplished something important if together we can determine whether our antitrust laws need updating for the digital economy or whether the antitrust agencies need Congress’ help to assure vigorous antitrust enforcement in the tech sector.

From the start of our inquiry, I have made clear the overarching principles guiding me in this endeavor.

First, while some tech companies have become very big, big is not necessarily bad. Companies that offer new innovations, better solutions and more consumer benefits at lower prices often become big — to the benefit of society. Proposals to break up big companies because of their size alone risk throwing the baby out with the bath water and simply punishing success. 

Second, just like the existing antitrust laws, proposals for new legislation should aim to keep the free market free. Proposals to construct broad new regulatory regimes should be viewed with caution. Experience shows that regulatory solutions often miss the mark, solve problems less efficiently than free markets can and create new opportunities for anti-competitive companies to suppress competition through rent-seeking. That is especially true when regulation attempts to take on evolving problems in fast-moving markets.

This principle is particularly important to me as we seek a better way to protect the privacy of consumers’ online data. I announced in July of this year that I would be introducing legislation this term to achieve better protection. I am working hard on that legislation and it is strongly animated by the principle I just laid out. 

Other proposals, like laws adopted in Europe and California, threaten to entrench the market power of large incumbent tech companies under the cloak of protecting online data privacy. I want us instead to enact a new federal law that better protects privacy without making it harder for new, small, innovative companies to enter the market, jostle with the giants and strive to become the blockbuster companies of tomorrow.

The heads of the antitrust agencies before us today also have stated principles they believe should guide antitrust inquiries into the tech sector. I look forward to hearing in depth today about their views and whether we can borrow from some of their guiding lights as we work our way through our own congressional inquiry.
 
I welcome our witnesses and yield back the balance of my time.

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