State AGs plan to fight court dismissal of their antitrust claims against Facebook

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New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, speaks during a news conference, to announce criminal justice reform in New York City, U.S., May 21, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

State attorneys general who accused Facebook of illegal monopolization will fight a court’s dismissal of their claims, according to a Wednesday court filing.

AGs from 48 states and territories filed the notice of appeal one month after a judge dismissed their complaint and that of the Federal Trade Commission.

“We filed this notice of appeal because we disagree with the court’s decision and must hold Facebook accountable for stifling competition, reducing innovation, and cutting privacy protections,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led the bipartisan coalition, in a statement Wednesday. “We can no longer allow Facebook to profit off of exploiting consumer data.”

Though the judge gave the FTC, which filed a similar lawsuit against Facebook, another chance to amend and re-file its complaint, he did not provide the same recourse for the state plaintiffs. The judge said the states’ long delay to challenge the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp was unprecedented at that level.

The court initially set the date for the FTC to file an amended complaint for this week, but that deadline has since been delayed until August 19. Since the judge dismissed the complaint, Facebook has filed a petition for FTC Chair Lina Khan to be recused from antitrust matters involving their business based on past critical statements she and her former employers have made about the industry.

Khan and the FTC have not yet responded to the petition but she will likely have to grapple with it before moving forward with an amended complaint. The FTC could also choose to file the complaint before its own administrative law judge and forego the federal court route.

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