Mid-point Remarks of Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson
The FTC Workshop on Competition Policy in The World of B2b Electronic Marketplaces
June 30, 2000
Good morning everyone, and welcome to the second day of the Federal Trade Commission's workshop on competition policy in the world of B2B electronic marketplaces. We are very happy to have you here joining us for what I believe is the first public conference on competition and B2B marketplaces. I would also like to thank Susan DeSanti, Director of Policy Planning, and her staff for their excellent work in organizing this event.
At the outset, I am required to state that the remarks I give this morning are my own and are not necessarily those of the Commission, as a whole, or any other Commissioner. That being said, I would like to note that I was very happy with the panels I attended yesterday. I hope that you also found them to be interesting and enlightening.
It goes without saying that this is a time of great change in our economy. The growth of the technology industry has, in and of itself, had a significant impact on American economic growth. At the same time, however, we are seeing a widerange of industry sectors develop and incorporate new technologies and business models within their operations. Consequently, we are experiencing what some call an "accelerated evolution" or "transformation" of the existing business and consumer marketplaces, which brings opportunities for positive benefits for business and consumers. At the same time, however, we also see opportunities for corporate behavior that could be characterized as anticompetitive.
It is no secret that we are often referred to as the Federal Government's "Internet Agency" because of the substantial time and energy we've invested in looking at technology's impact on both the Competition and Consumer Protection parts of our mission. Based on that experience, we have learned that in new markets, like those based in technology, that the fundamental principles of antitrust and consumer protection still apply -- its not the "Wild West" out there! But where markets are fast moving and subject to rapid change, a certain degree of regulatory circumspection is appropriate.
What we've also learned is that these markets also raise interesting and complex public policy issues like privacy, security, and cross-border jurisdiction. Moreover, no one set of stakeholders -- industry, government, or consumers -- will be able to address these issues alone. Instead, the best policy resolutions will involve an interactive approach involving each of these groups. This workshop is a vivid example of how the Commission is applying this perspective.
It is important that all of us recognize the opportunity we have here to present our best thinking and trade ideas about B2B marketplaces, how they work, and the benefits they hold for businesses and consumers. We should also recognize that these opportunities can and should continue as part of an "organic" process that will allow us all to work toward what is best for America. What that also means, however, is that we should also be able to take a critical look at issues -- like anti-competitive behavior-- that may prevent us from reaching that goal and think about ways we can address these concerns.
It is in that spirit that I welcome you here today. This morning we will hear the owners' and operators' perspectives of B2B marketplaces, as well as a view of future developments and public policy implications for the growth of such market structures. This afternoon, we will look more specifically at the competition issues arising from B2B markets. I think that these are particularly interesting topics. So, I look forward to hearing from everyone and continuing our interactive dialog.