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David Balto
David Balto is a Former Policy Director of the Federal Trade Commission and a public interest antitrust attorney in Washington, D.C. Mr. Balto has over 20 years of experience as an antitrust attorney in the private sector, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Balto was the policy director of the Bureau of Competition and attorney advisor to Chairman Robert Pitofsky. He is nationally known for his expertise in competition policy in financial services, high-tech industries, semiconductors, health care, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and media.

Entries by David Balto

Bring Transparency to the Purchase We All Have to Make

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2016 | 6:04 PM

The way the free market system works is simple. Give consumers choice and transparency and competition for consumer loyalty will follow. Prices fall, services improve, and firms produce newer, better products and services. Add the Internet, where price information, price comparison tools and reduced entry barriers have made the consumer...

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Block the Aetna Humana Merger

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2016 | 5:39 PM

Last week, the Missouri Department of Insurance held a hearing on the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana. The hearing was not widely noticed, but it could not be more timely or important - the proposed merger threatens to raise premiums of over 300,000 older Missourians who depend on Medicare...

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The Answer on Health Insurance Mergers -- Just Say No

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2016 | 1:32 PM

This week a hearing by the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will assess the state of antitrust enforcement. One of the toughest questions the antitrust cops must address is what to do with the two mega-health insurance mergers -- Anthem's acquisition of Cigna and Aetna's acquisition of Humana....

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Charter/Time Warner Merger: Let's Talk Remedies

(2) Comments | Posted November 16, 2015 | 9:07 AM

Charter has emerged as a likely acquirer of Time Warner Cable ("TWC") after Comcast's failed bid earlier this year. I believed that the Comcast deal was workable from a competition standpoint, which makes the Charter deal even more so. What this means in a practical sense is that the most...

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Health Insurance Mergers Fact Check: Why Consumers Will Lose

(2) Comments | Posted November 10, 2015 | 10:25 AM

In today's political climate, it is rare when Democrats and Republicans agree on any issues. But both parties, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina, agree it's time to take notice of mega-mergers. And, both concur that the mergers of health insurance giants Aetna and...

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Getting the Story Straight on Comcast, Time Warner

(0) Comments | Posted September 27, 2015 | 4:58 PM

It's often worthwhile for policy makers to look back on a matter to determine whether they made the right call on it. So, in this sense, I appreciate FCC General Counsel Jonathan Sallet's recent comments at TPRC describing the agency's objections to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable (TWC) transaction.


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The Google Staff Report: March Madness Not Worth Watching

(0) Comments | Posted March 20, 2015 | 3:18 PM

The accidental release of the Federal Trade Commission's unredacted staff report on the Google investigation has caused quite a stir. However, what initially seems like The Sound and the Fury is actually just a tempest in a teapot.

Let's get the process straight. The staff memo was just...

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With Litigation Certain, Congress Should Guide FCC on Internet Regulation

(3) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 1:23 PM

For the high-tech crowd, 2015 started with a strong sense of déjà vu. Once again the focus is on net neutrality, an issue that rose in prominence in 2006 and was believed to be settled when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its Open Internet Order in 2010. That order...

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An Effective Referee for the Internet

(1) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 2:53 PM

With football season upon us, we are reminded of what makes a competitive contest: clear rules, a level playing field and an effective referee. And we know what we want in a referee -- someone with a clearly and narrowly defined role, who intervenes only when necessary, calling penalties with...

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Ninth Circuit Hits Pause Button on Critical Idaho Hospital Merger

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 5:52 PM

The main course for federal antitrust enforcement appears to be the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to challenge hospital mergers. These efforts hit a snag late last month when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a decision by an Idaho district court to unwind the acquisition of Nampa, Idaho-based Saltzer...

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Anything Can Happen in a World Where Innovation, Not Government Intervention, Rules

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 9:40 AM

Microsoft now has a new CEO who finally seems to get it. Speaking recently about survival in a "post-PC world," Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, described today's tech landscape as a dynamic market in which competition must be waged through ideas. "Anybody is capable of anything," Nadella told...

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Son's Cloudy Outlook on U.S. Broadband

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 10:08 AM

At re/code's recent "Code Conference," Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son -- whose company currently owns Sprint -- set the table for his company's desire to merge with T-Mobile by rehashing largely debunked claims that America's broadband networks lag behind the rest of the developed world on speed, prices and...

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Softbank's Pitch to Regulators Paints False Picture of U.S. Wireless

(0) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 7:37 PM

Masayoshi Son, the Japanese telecom magnate whose Softbank company acquired Sprint last year, is trying to justify acquiring T-Mobile by painting a specter of a second-rate American wireless market with the claims that consumers have terrible service and are paying too much. His claims are simply fanciful, but even if...

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European Commission's Investigation of Google Can't Become a Song That Never Ends

(2) Comments | Posted March 1, 2014 | 9:36 AM

The European Commission investigation of Google should not become "The Song That Never Ends" of lamb chops origin, regardless of how badly Google's competitors may want that outcome. The verse started with Google proposing a settlement, then the European Commission market tested it, Google's competitors put pressure on the European...

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Dear Congress: Don't Take Away the FTC's Best Tool for Fighting Patent Trolls

(0) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 9:30 AM

One hundred years ago Congress created the Federal Trade Commission to serve as this nation's consumer protection cop. Recognizing the limits of the antitrust laws and the lack of consumer protection law Congress gave it broad powers under Section 5 of the FTC Act to attack "unfair trade practices" and...

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The FTC: a Tough Data Security Cop

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 5:12 PM

Protecting data security is the most important consumer protection issue for the economy. Each year the Federal Trade Commission receives a flood of identity fraud complaints. Efforts to diminish the problem by noting the limits on consumer liability are just plain wrong. There are liability protections but the external costs...

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No Green Eggs and Ham for Google's Competitors

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 6:38 PM

We all know Dr. Seuss' classic tale Green Eggs and Ham. An unnamed pink protagonist keeps rejecting offers of a delectable meal, proclaiming he will not eat it "here or there, I will not eat it anywhere."

This tale of woe seems instructive for explaining how competitors of Google have...

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Call on the FTC to Fix the Patent Litigation Mess and Patent Privateering

(0) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 2:47 PM

When President Obama, Republican and Democratic Congressman and major enforcement officials all agree that there is a problem, people must take notice. All of our key leaders are in agreement that our patent system is off balance because of the actions of patent assertion entities (PAEs) (or patent trolls), firms...

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As Congress and Enforcers Contemplate Patent Trolls, Don't Forget about Privateering

(1) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 4:14 PM

Congress is beginning to pay attention to the significant problem of patent assertion entities ("PAEs") or, as they are sometimes called, patent trolls. Patent trolls' business model is to acquire patents not to pursue innovation, but instead as a tool of litigation. They sue innovative companies or end users such...

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The FTC Google Settlement on Essential Patents Rewards Good Faith Bargaining, Deters Both Hold-Up and Hold-Out

(2) Comments | Posted January 4, 2013 | 7:32 AM

In a unanimous vote, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") announced it has closed its investigation into Google's search practices, concluding that the evidence "does not support" an antitrust case. The FTC also accepted Google's voluntary commitments to change business practices to enable competitors to opt-out of...

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