Abby Normal, a Flood of Ill-Considered Withdrawals, and the FTC’s Theatre of Listening

Lina M. Khan was sworn in as chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on June 15, 2021. On July 9 of that year, the FTC withdrew the commission’s 2015 “Statement of Enforcement Principles Regarding ‘Unfair Methods of Competition’ Under Section 5 of the FTC Act.” That three-week lag was, in practical terms, nothing. Even ignoring the many practical/ministerial/managerial things that come with assuming the chair, there’s a certain amount of process required of policy decisions at the commission.

As many noted at the time, rescinding the 2015 statement, “absent any new guidance about how the Commission interprets its authority,” did little to signal the commission’s new view of its authority. That is, apart from the vague signal that a far more expansive statement was forthcoming and, of course, a not-so-tepid statement that…

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