The mission of the Antitrust Division is to promote competition by enforcing the antitrust laws to protect economic freedom and opportunity on behalf of the American people. As the Supreme Court explained in Northern Pacific Railway v. United States, antitrust enforcement “provide[s] an environment conducive to the preservation of our democratic political and social institutions.”
Competition in a free market benefits American consumers, workers, and taxpayers. It provides consumers with lower prices, better quality, greater choice, and innovation. It provides workers with job opportunities, higher wages, better benefits, and other terms of employment. And it ensures that taxpayer dollars are well spent on goods and services for the public’s benefit rather than lost to collusion.
Competition provides businesses the opportunity to compete on price, quality, innovation, and wages, in an open market and on a level playing field, unhampered by anticompetitive restraints.
Federal antitrust laws apply to virtually all industries, including technology and healthcare, and to every aspect of business, including manufacturing, transportation, distribution, labor, and marketing. They prohibit a variety of practices that restrain trade, such as price-fixing conspiracies, corporate mergers whose effect may be to substantially lessen the competitive vigor of particular markets, interlocking directorates which create a risk of collusion, and predatory acts designed to achieve or maintain monopoly power.
The Division prosecutes certain violations of the antitrust laws by filing criminal cases that can lead to large fines and jail sentences. In other cases, the Division institutes a civil action seeking a court order forbidding future violations of the law and requiring steps to remedy the anticompetitive effects of past violations.
Many of the Division's accomplishments on these fronts are made possible by an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination with federal enforcers, regulators, law enforcement agencies, state attorneys general, and foreign antitrust enforcement agencies.
Sometimes the Antitrust Division publishes guidance on the antitrust laws. These guidance documents are designed to explain to the American public, business community, practitioners, and courts the factors and frameworks the Antitrust Division considers when opening an investigation or bringing an enforcement action.
The Antitrust Division acts as an advocate for competition, seeking to promote competition in regulated sectors of the American economy. These sectors include:
- Federally regulated industries, such as communications, banking, agriculture, securities, transportation, energy, and international trade.
- State or locally regulated industries, such as insurance, housing, health care, public utilities, professional and occupational licensing, certain aspects of banking, and real estate.
- Other organizations that make rules affecting competition, such as industry standards.
The Division's advocacy efforts include reviewing agency regulatory action, participating in Executive Branch policy task forces, advising on legislation, commenting on rules or industry standards that affects competition, and contributing to reports on regulated industry performance.