tv Yelp Conference on Antitrust Law Technology - DC Attorney General CSPAN June 1, 2018 3:05pm-3:30pm EDT
ta takeaway i think the case demonstrates that the laws are durable. again, i now repeated this several times and the standard is flexible an adequate and capable. then, as it was 100 years ago, as it is in this upcoming era with the tech companies, i think the major failure was at the remedial stage, which took a whole bunch of incredible effort and thought and enforcement vigor, and popped the balloon at the very end in terms of getting any effective relief. and creating a remedy that actually restored economy tigs to t -- competition to the market. >> it's an effective enforcement of the anti-trust laws is chal epg to the public's company that
any one company or group of companies are invincible. >> great. i hope you all will join me in thanking the panels. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> please come on in. here's some open seats right over here. go ahead and fill in these open seats here in the front and whatnot. so what a great kick off to this event first with senator hatch and that that wonderful panel we just heard. part of that panel they discussed the role that the state attorney's general play in these issues. and so we are so thrilled and honored to have both a former state attorney general, dustin mcdaniel as well as current
attorney general of washington d.c. karl racine. dustin will have a fireside chat and i'll tell you a little bit about him. he's a partner in the little rock law firm of calhoun where practice focuses on regulatory law, government relations, business litigation, and criminal law. from 2007 through 2015, he served as arkansas 55th attorney general acting as the state's top law enforcement official in the state's top consumer advocate. attorney general karl racine is the first elected attorney general of the district of columbia. with his inauguration in 2015, the office of the attorney general ghana era of independence for the agency and accountability to district wrist dents. as the chief legal officer of district of columbia, general racine relies on 25 years of legal and leadership experience to advise the mayor and district agencies, defebd the city and court, and use the law to advance the public interest.
please join me in giving a round of applause to general mcdaniel and general racine. [ applause ] >> thank you, luther. thank you general for taking the time to be with us today. it's a privilege to be with you always. i know you are a leader in the united states among your colleagues on consumer protection and all manner of issues, so it is really is great that you are here. thanks for coming. >> thanks to yelp and thanks to you general mcdaniel for inviting me. the topics i'm sure that were discussed earlier were top of the line involving some of the world's best companies at an extremely important time where regulation in europe is leading the way in a certain direction, and there is a big question mark, really, as to what direction the united states is going to go. >> i think that's exactly right.
and, you know, i don't know about you, but when i ran for attorney general, i did not think about the fact that anti-trust enforcement was a concurrent jurisdiction in the states in the ags along with dod, ftc. i was out talking about protecting old people and bussing meth labs. so it was kind of a new thing for me. so it's really interesting the role that attorneys general really have always taken and continue to take. and so i'm hoping that we'll get to talk about that a little bit today. you know, starting off with kind of a soft ball, i mean, the city of washington d.c. has been so welcoming to tech companies and consistently is listed as one of the top ten tech cities in america outside of silicon valley. what's it mean that a company like yelp chooses to come here and employ people and make a physical presence here in the nation's capital? >> well, i think you hit it on the head. it's further confirmation that the world's best companies know that the district of columbia is
a good place to do business. primarily because we have extremely talented folks who live and work here. you know, really robust colleges. and it's pretty fun to live in d.c. it's a friendly city with a bunch of natural beauty. the monuments are here. the museums are here. why wouldn't a business want to settle in the washington d.c.? >> so gives me a good excuse to come see you more often too. >> you're welcome. >> so more than 100 years ago the national association of attorneys general was created where the states banded together in response to the overwhemilmi force of standards oil as fear as federal preemption. here we are more than 100 years later and anti-trust issues, market dominance, the protection of the little guy in the marketplace, and now the vogue term of federal overreach still dominate attorneys general.
give us a little thought on what it's like to be an attorney general today? and how businesses come to talk to you about the issues facing them? these are sophisticated players. and the states and the district and the territories have a role. tell us a little bit about what that is. >> sure. it's extraordinarily interesting, as you say, and to be sure oftentimes the companies do come and speak to the office of attorney general, city council in advance of pitching their tent in the district of columbia. it's also true that companies come in and do not seek with the attorney general, they go about conducting the business, and to the extent issues come up they address them when they arise. for example, we have ride sharing of all sorts here in the district. we also have food delivery services in the district. and not so long ago, there was a report that certain ride sharing
services and food delivery services were not traveling to certain parts of the district of columbia. well, that rubbed residents of the district of columbia the wrong way. and certainly rubbed this attorney general the wrong way. we reached out to those companies. wrote a pretty stern letter. and really within a matter of days they made clear that they would provide their services throughout the district of columbia without regard to class, ethnic, and race dynamics. it's incredibly important for new companies, no matter how bright and innovative they are, to understand the basics of business. and the basics of business require companies to deliver their goods and services to every resident. >> so even without mentioning any names, it's clear we are talking about big international companies who do care what the attorneys general of the states, the territories, and the district of columbia think. you know, i think that kind of the modern water shed moments
for attorneys general, 1998 master settlement agreement with big tobacco, 20 years ago u.s. versus microsoft which clearly the states were key players in, the mortgage fraud da back cal . describe what you see the relationship between your office, the states, and holding onto or building partnerships with the federal government when you are taking on some of the biggest companies in the world, whether it's pharmaceuticals or tech or you name it. >> well, from the perspective of the district of columbia, you know, we always look to partner with our federal partners, be it the fcc, the ftc, the department of justice. that's the preferred route. but administrations change and priorities change. and i guess that's fair.
however, when priorities change, and perhaps there is a step back in enforcement, that's when offices of attorney generals have to really step up and do more. let me tell you, you remember this, you went through many budgets. i just went through a budget period, and i got to tell you, one of the priorities for our office was getting really really smart on anti-trust law, on privacy law. why? because not only do we read the papers, we know that residents get very concerned when their data is used in a way that they weren't aware of. and we are going to be there to step up and protect those residents without regard to whether a federal partner will be there with us. >> so tell me a little bit about what that looks like. when you revamp, you are the first elected attorney general in the district of columbia, which means it's not just a mayor's appointee, you are actually answerable to the
people and trying to translate their priorities into how you do your job. so the fact that you are hearing from your constituents, obviously, a sophisticated constituency, when you decide you want to revamp the anti-trust department of your office, how do you go about doing that? how do you recruit people and coordinate with other ags? >> let me say a few things about that. first, we started the first stand alone office of consumer protection in the dils trikt of columbia. and what we found initially was that residents didn't complain. they were not used to understanding that there was an office out there that could actually step in and help them. we created a mediation function within our office of consumer protection. we got out there in the community and we urged people to complain. in 2017, we had so many resident complaints that our mediation bureau, without even filing a lawsuit, returned $7 million
into the purses and pockets of d.c. residents. and you know very well, general mcdaniel, people act differently on the other end of the line. this is causing us to need more talented people. let will he talk about the talent in the district of columbia. it used to be the case before the office rose in profile, had good lawyers, but certain types of lawyers didn't really apply. i'm looking at one of my colleagues now who is an extremely talented lawyer, was a fifth year associate at could having ton and burr ling, next thing i know i'm recruiting him, and thankfully he came over. so talent is coming over. we just posted a job for solicitor general position and
deputy, five united states supreme court law clerks very much want the job. we can only hire two this is a good place to be for talent. and the talent is going to be deployed in important areas like anti-trust law, like privacy law, to protect our residents. >> well, like all ags, you know that it's important to have really, really smart people whose primary concern at that point in their lives and career is public service. >> that's right. >> and doing something to serve their fellow citizens. that's why you are able to a tragic such amazing people. >> that's right. and i have to tell you opportunity to be on the cutting edge of extraordinarily important issues, i mean, take a look at facebook, for example. the question there is, my goodness, consumers don't pay for facebook, it's free. i was a public defender, so i know the only thing that's free is a public defender. you know, you have a facebook account, you are giving up a lot there. and sometimes you are giving up
more than they told you. those are important issues going forward. as you know, our office focused and partnered with attorney general shawn ray as in regard to concerns we had around google/alphabet. >> how did you know i was going do ask you about that. >> i figured that might come up. there, you know, we were very overwhelmed about the market power chlt that's not in debate. that google and alphabet have. and what we were really concerned about was the notion that consumers somehow were not injured in regards to what some might consider, and i considered it, to be a bias ranking in searches. consumers are in fact hurt. and when mr. tim wu, i understand was here earlier, came out with his report in 2012, 2013, you know, that woke us up. and i was happy to partner with
shawn reyes and really urging the ftc to take another look in light of the tim wu study. >> i suspect everybody in this room knows what you are talking about. not everybody in the country who may be watching necessarily would. but when the ftc closed down their investigation of google dominant market position and did so with no action and no involvement with the states, i was attorney general when that happened. we knew it had happened when we read about it in the paper the next day. there has been a great deal of concern since then that without having that federal partner getting the ags to engage together was not as easy as it might have seemed. so your leadership and your republican counterpart colleague and certainly our friend shawn reyes of utah, i think that was a big moment, because it was the
first time the states had said to the federal government you are not done here. if you think all the issues related to use of the internet and search engine market dominance are over, that is farcical. what kind of response has that brought to you, both from the spector sector and private sector, what have people said about that effort of yours? >> well, first of all, when you take action of that sort, you take action because you think the law and the facts compel it. and to be shooure, the action t shawn reyes and i took really wasn't overly dramatic. what we said was seemingly the ftc closed out an investigation based on the facts it had before it. well, new facts and indeed data emerged. that to us was a reason enough for the ftc to reopen its investigation. sometimes when a federal agency makes a decision in the space, there is a tendency for other players, state ags, to walk
away, thinking that, okay, they resolved the issue. well, that's not the case, because there are other participants, residents, in your state who may be adversely impacted. there are other businesses who have other perspectives on whether their businesses are injured. and so it's incredibly important to me to be open to listening to voices that may not have had a chance to present their views before a federal body. >> so do you think -- you alluded to europe earlier. do you think that the steps taken by the european union in the last couple of years especially, has that been instructive to attorneys general or are attorneys general paying attention to that? >> i can't say that automatic or majority of attorneys general are paying attention to it. i do think that fundamentally there is a different level of value in regards to privacy. and of course the competition laws have different em physphas
europe versus the united states. but i certainly pay attention, because what we are talking about is two principles, fair competition, number one, and protecting consumers from monopolistic and unfair behavior. >> so you mention the ftc earlier. as we know in the last couple of weeks, the senate has confirmed a large batch. we have five new commissioners including a new chair. does that sort of mark a new day for what is now annully reconstituted ftc. and if so how would an ag begin to build relationships with and learn and share priorities with kind of a whole new group of commissioners? >> yeah, i think there is no doubt, you know, with the recent appointments and confirmations it is a new day. and i think it's important in that context for ags to do what i know we have done in
washington d.c., which is reach out to the agencies, try to find a way to partner, see if there is it areas that we have in common. if we can work together, fine. but, again, if we can't work together, ags can't abdicate from their responsibility to ensure that there is a fair marketplace tan that consume marketplace and that consumers are protected. >> that's very well said. and i wish you good luck to reaching tout and building relationships. i know the new chair has strong background in anti-trust and comes with a firm whom you've worked closely over the years. and i suspect when he starts to hear from his new colleagues and from state attorneys general, that will have no effect other than to direct some added resources and attention at the ftc. >> i think you are exactly right. and as you know the national association of attorney generals, the democratic
attorney generals and other organizations, regularly have substantive conferences where the federal agencies come, and it's a really good opportunity to get a good sense as to whether there is it a willing partner there. and if there is, let's go for it. if not, then what we have to do is make sure we have the substantive expertise to do what we think is right to protect our consumers. >> so your staff had impressed upon me significantly that your time is pretty cramped this afternoon. we appreciate senator hatch and senator blumenthal, our former colleague senator blumenthal coming to join us later. so we only have a few moments left for questions. and i can tell you just fair warning this crowd has not been hesitant. >> okay. >> now, i'll say this, just for the interests of time rather than passing a microphone, i think if you'll just holler, that's an arkansas term, you can use it any time you want, if
you'll holler the question, i'll do the best i can to repeat it. not necessarily for the general, but for the digital purposes. >> naus[ inaudible ]. >> the question was regarding missouri. your colleague holy in the state of missouri early this year, end of last year, announced he was opening an investigation. and his talking points regarding google was ocean hally taken straight from the letter that you and general reyes sent to the ftc. are the ags communicating about that? and i know you can't reveal anything taking place under agreement of confidentiality between states, but to the extent there are public sentiments you can share, what are your thoughts? >> yeah, i certainly thought that was a bold action on his part. i mean, he sort of came out, if you will, swinging. you know, clearly asserting that
google was a monopolist, and in fact its conduct was having a detrimental impact on the marketplace, both businesses and individuals. i can publicly tell you that when i saw that complaint, i reached out to the general. we had a pleasant conversation. and, you know, since that time staffs have been interacting. so i'm watching that work with particular interest. now you know the general is running for governor. and the question will be whether the commitment -- >> senator. >> senator, thank you. whether the commitment that he made as attorney general to bring the matter will continue should he be elected to the senate. >> that's very forthcoming and i appreciate the answer. yes, ma'am. >> hi. do you think that facebook might have violated the terms of its consent decree in the way that it handled the cambridge
analytica situation? >> you know, we have an active investigation into that situation. i think the facts are troubling. i think, to be honest, i think the manner in which facebook has responded to the investigation raises more questions than it answers. and i better leave it at that. >> if i could, the other thing i'll say, the first question was such an important question about district of columbia and great companies coming into town. i'm certainly in favor of that. what i don't want folks to lose sight of, though, is that with all the growth and development and restaurants and entertainment in the district of columbia, there is still people in the district of columbia who are suffering, who don't have the skills to compete in this
new economy. and i think it's incredibly important for responsible companies, especially new ones, to not only recruit high tech people, but to get into those stem schools, reach out to the areas where folks, you know, really need workforce development in order to compete in this marketplace and lend a hand so that all d.c. residents, not just a handful, can benefit from business. >> well, i have never been accused of finishing a panel on time voluntarily before. but i think that unless there is anybody else with a pressing question, we'll let the general escape on time. i would be remiss if i didn't say that, you know, not being a resident of d.c., i know that it took great restraint on your part to stand up before any crowd of any size and not talk about d.c.'s nonstatehood
status, which is important to you. the one area in which d.c. does get treated looic a state is with the attorneys general. you are not a leader in america city attorneys association. you are treated as a sister, a sister state for purposes of attorney general enforcement and leadership. you left a very prominent law firm and practice for that public service. i applaud you for doing it. i congratulate you on the first time and second and look forward to work wg you in the future. thanks for being us. >> thank you very. . i would be remiss if i didn't thank you personally. one of the first people i met after i got elected was general mcdaniel. and so in many ways you are a mentor and a guide. thank you. >> thanks so much. [ applause ]