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ROUNDUP 2: US bankruptcy lawsuit against Facebook admitted to court

Wednesday, 01/12/2022 11:22 AM from

dpa-AFX

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) – Could Facebook (Facebook share) be forced in court to sell off the billion-dollar WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions? The US government has definitely taken the first step towards this goal. Your initially rejected competition lawsuit was accepted with amendments in front of the court in Washington. At the same time, the judge emphasized that it was still completely open who would ultimately prevail in the proceedings. It should drag on for years.

In the lawsuit, the US trade authority FTC alleges, among other things, that the online network bought the WhatsApp chat service and the photo platform in order to protect its own monopoly in the market. Therefore, the takeovers would have to be reversed. Proofing that could be a pretty big task for the FTC, judge James Boasberg restricted on Tuesday.

The judge had sent back the first version of the lawsuit with humiliating words for the FTC lawyers. Among other things, he criticized that they had not bothered to support the monopoly allegation against Facebook with numbers. “It is as if the agency wanted the court to simply abandon the general belief that Facebook was a monopoly,” he wrote in June.

The original lawsuit was filed in December 2020 at the end of then President Donald Trump’s term of office. It was improved under the leadership of FTC boss Lina Khan, appointed by his successor Joe Biden. Your vote was decisive for introducing the second version of the lawsuit: In the five-member commission, the two remaining members of the Democratic camp voted for and the two Republicans against.

Facebook wanted to take advantage of this fact and accused Khan of bias. With her earlier statements, she revealed herself to be an opponent of Facebook and, according to Facebook, should therefore not have taken part in the vote. Judge Boasberg did not accept that.

In addition to the FTC, an alliance of more than 40 states had filed a lawsuit against the deals. This was completely rejected by Judge Boasberg in June.

The largest competition to date in the tech industry in the 1990s was about Microsoft (Microsoft share) . The group had bundled the Internet Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system. The US Department of Justice argued at the time that in view of the dominant market position of Windows, browser rivals such as Netscape had been pushed out of the still new market by this practice. In the meantime, a judge ordered Microsoft to be broken up, but this was overturned by an appeals court. In the end, the Ministry of Justice and Microsoft agreed on milder conditions./so/DP/stk

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