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Democratic senator says US 'paralyzed' on antitrust, privacy regulation

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Dec. 19 that while the U.S. has historically taken the lead on antitrust matters, it is now "paralyzed" when it comes to antitrust and privacy regulation.

Klobuchar, who serves as the top Democrat on a Senate judiciary subcommittee that focuses on antitrust and competition policy, spoke during a hearing that examined the differing approaches of the U.S. and EU in antitrust matters. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, offered a contrasting viewpoint, warning of potential harmful effects of ill-considered antitrust regulation.

"When I look at what we're doing in America when it comes to legislating on this issue [antitrust], we are really not doing anything at all," said Klobuchar. "We need to do something to better equip the agencies to be as sophisticated as the people that they are regulating."

Klobuchar also reacted to a recent report in The New York Times alleging that Facebook Inc. gave some of its tech partners greater access to user data than previously known, calling for U.S. action to protect consumers and more privacy regulations.

Facebook and other tech firms named in the Times report have denied committing any privacy violations.

Lee, meanwhile, said that poorly conceived "interventionist antitrust enforcement" could have negative long-term effects on consumers and the economy. He urged caution and economic analysis before launching into antitrust enforcement reforms.