The FTC’s Repeal of Enforcement Guidance Is Bad News for Business

(anyaberkut/iStock/Getty Images) Without the proper guardrails guiding the agency’s hand, there will likely be major losses for the competitive health of the American economy.

Anyone without a law degree or an intimate familiarity with the nuances of antitrust statutes would be forgiven if the words “Section 5 of the FTC Act” or “unfair methods of competition” did not sound particularly significant. Those who are more accustomed with the federal regulatory and statutory landscape, however, would understand their importance. And, had those folks — consumers and businesses alike — tuned into the webcast of the Federal Trade Commission’s July 1 open meeting, they would have felt the hairs on the back of their neck stand up at the biggest result of the meeting: the revocation of the FTC’s “Section 5 policy statement.”

That statement was a bipartisan document adopted by the agency in 2015. Four of the five commissioners who ran the FTC agreed to it, including all three Democrats. Section 5 of the FTC Act forbids “unfair methods of competition,” giving the agency a broad — and largely undefined — enforcement power. The statement effectively says that the FTC will not challenge business behavior as

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