Johnson Leads Bipartisan Call for Investigation of Anticompetitive Practices in the App Marketplace

October 19, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., the Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, has called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate concerns regarding anticompetitive activity in the app marketplace. Earlier this year, The Washington Post reported that numerous developers have raised concerns with anticompetitive practices in this market, such as onerous conditions applicable to rival apps that may create an uneven playing field.

“It is critical that we promote and defend competition, even in markets that are highly innovative, to ensure that small entrants aren’t squeezed out through needlessly restrictive conditions and policies,” Johnson stated. “I strongly encourage the FTC to give this issue the close attention that it deserves.”

Johnson is joined on the bipartisan letter by U.S. Reps. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Dave Trott (R-MI), who express concerns in the letter that “these practices will stifle innovation and decrease channels for distributing the products of application and service developers, resulting in fewer and less cost-effective choices for consumers.”

Johnson has championed efforts to increase privacy, security, and choice in the app marketplace. He has introduced H.R. 4517, the Application Privacy, Protection and Security (APPS) Act of 2016, a bill to increase consumer privacy on mobile devices; and H.R. 4516, the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2016, which would prohibit data brokers from using consumer data deceptively, empowering consumers to access and correct information, and opt-out of data use for marketing purposes.

October 19, 2016
  
The Honorable Edith Ramirez
Chair
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
 
Dear Chairwoman Ramirez:

It is our understanding that some independent and small technology developers have raised concerns with the Federal Trade Commission that the increasing difficulty that app developers have in reaching and communicating with customers in some app ecosystems may undermine competition in digital services and products distribution. We are concerned that these practices will stifle innovation and decrease channels for distributing the products of application and service developers, resulting in fewer and less cost-effective choices for consumers.
As Members of the United States House of Representatives serving on the Committee on the Judiciary, we are committed to ensuring a competitive marketplace for all companies online, including new entrants and small competitors. Accordingly, we ask that the Commission carefully consider these concerns. 
We believe the Commission has the statutory authority to fairly regulate the market and enforce the antitrust laws to promote competition and protect consumers. If it is not within the Commission’s authority, we welcome your suggestions as to how Congress may act to remedy any deficiencies in the Commission’s authority concerning this matter. 
Please respond to us regarding these concerns by no later than November 19, 2016. 

Sincerely,

_______________________________
Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.
Member of Congress

_______________________________
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Member of Congress

_______________________________
David Cicilline
Member of Congress
    
_______________________________
Lamar Smith
Member of Congress

_______________________________
Sheila Jackson Lee
Member of Congress    

_______________________________
Dave Trott
Member of Congress
    

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