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Er, no, we would like to continue suing Facebook, US state AGs tell courts

Attorneys General from 46 US states, plus Guam and Washington DC, have appealed a district court’s decision to dismiss their antitrust lawsuit against Facebook that claims the social media giant illegally acquired its competitors to maintain a monopoly.

That appeal [PDF] was filed on Wednesday in DC. It comes after federal district Judge James Boasberg sided with Facebook and threw out the states’ case brought in December. The attorneys general, led by New York’s Letitia James, alleged Facebook violated the Clayton Antitrust Act when it snapped up Instagram in 2012 and Whatsapp 2014.

“We filed this notice of appeal because we disagree with the court’s decision and must hold Facebook accountable for stifling competition, reducing innovation, and cutting privacy protections,” said James, according to CNBC. “We can no longer allow Facebook to profit off of exploiting consumer data.”

Judge Boasberg ruled that the AGs had left it too late to sue Facebook over WhatsApp and Instagram. “The court is aware of no case, and plaintiffs provide none, where such a long delay in seeking such a consequential remedy has been countenanced in a case brought by a plaintiff other than the federal government, against which laches does not apply and to which the federal antitrust laws grant unique authority as sovereign law enforcer,” he ruled [PDF] last month.

“If laches is to mean anything, it must apply on these facts, even in a suit brought by states.”

The attorneys general, however, are determined to keep fighting.

“We believe the district court’s decision dismissing the states’ complaint is correct and look forward to defending the district court’s decision before the court of appeals,” a Facebook company spokesperson told The Register in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust complaint threatening to break up Facebook was also dismissed by a federal court over a lack of evidence to support its claims. The trade watchdog was given 30 days to amend its lawsuit last month, and was granted an extension [PDF] to refile the case by August 19. ®


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