Posts by Harold Feld:

This is the fourth blog post in a series on regulating digital platforms.
Read More
In my last blog post, I explained my working definition for what constitutes a “digital platform.” Today, I focus on another concept that gets thrown around a lot: “dominant.” While many regulations promoting consumer protection and competition apply throughout a sector, some economic regulations apply to “dominant” firms or firms with “market power.” Behavior that is harmless, or potentially even positive when done by smaller companies or in a more competitive marketplace, can be anticompetitive or harmful to consumers when done by dominant firms — regardless of the firm’s actual intent.
Read More
In Part I, I explored the challenges of regulating digital platforms to promote competition, protect consumers, and encourage news production and civic engagement. Today, I plan to dive into the first set of challenges. First, I define what I mean when I talk about digital platforms. I will argue that platforms that (a) provide a two-sided or multi-sided market; (b) are accessed via the internet; and (c) have at least one side that is marketed as a “mass market” service, share a set of characteristics and raise a similar set of concerns so that we should consider them as a distinct set of businesses.
Read More
As digital platforms have become increasingly important in our everyday lives, we’ve recognized that the need for some sort of regulatory oversight increases. In the past, we’ve talked about this in the context of privacy and what general sorts of due process rights dominant platforms owe their customers. Today, we make it clear that we have reached the point where we need sector-specific regulation focused on online digital platforms, not just application of existing antitrust or existing consumer protection laws. When platforms have become so central to our lives that a change in algorithm can dramatically crash third-party businesses, when social media plays such an important role in our lives that entire businesses exist to pump up your follower numbers, and when a multi-billion dollar industry exists for the sole purpose of helping businesses game search engine rankings, lawmakers need to stop talking hopefully about self-regulation and start putting in place enforceable rights to protect the public interest.
Read More
This is an edited version of a blog post originally published on Harold Feld’s personal blog, Tales from the Sausage Factory, on WetMachine.com.
Read More
In my last post, took the four most famous net neutrality violations to see how they would come out under the current rules adopted in 2015 v. how they would come out under the regulatory framework following the Federal Communications Commission vote to repeal net neutrality rules, based on the draft Order. To condense the approximately 5500-word analysis: all four incidents are addressable under the 2015 rules. None of the incidents are addressable under the combined Federal Trade Commission and antitrust regime that remains after the vote to repeal the rules, with the exception of Comcast’s deliberate deception about their blocking peer-2-peer protocols in 2007-08.
Read More
According to the official Federal Communications Commission statics (current to August 30), Hurricane Harvey is having a predictably significant impact on telecommunications in the path of its devastation. We won’t actually know the final damage for awhile yet, but it appears that cell sites are pretty much gone in the counties where Harvey made landfall (but service is being steadily restored). Over 265,000 landline phones have been rendered inoperative. No one expects a communications network to come through an epic flood like Harvey without serious disruption. Indeed, from the very surface look of things, it appears that the communications network in the impact area is performing much better than it did during either Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy.
Read More
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission approved the merger between internet-giant Amazon and Whole Foods, the original organic grocer. You may be surprised how quickly the merger passed regulatory muster, especially given the public’s desire for strong antitrust enforcement to promote vigorous competition and equity in our economy, including our digital one. You may be wondering: Is this a case of weak enforcement? Is it proof that today’s antitrust doctrine is useless for digital-age companies? Or are critics of growing digital market concentration simply wrong to express concern? My guess is “none of the above.” Here’s why.
Read More
This blog post was originally published on Harold Feld’s personal blog, “Tales of the Sausage Factory,” on Wetmachine.com.
Read More
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Packingham v. North Carolina struck down, as unconstitutional under the First Amendment, a state law making it a felony for registered sex offenders to access social media websites. The decision has wide-ranging potential implications for technology law, especially on matters of rights to access the internet, which are particularly important for marginalized and disenfranchised voices in our society. Below, Harold Feld reviews the Packingham decision and explores its implications for one area of law: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s provisions regarding termination of Internet access for accused copyright infringers. This post was originally posted on Harold’s personal blog, “Tales of the Sausage Factory,” on wetmachine.com.
Read More