Items tagged "Antitrust"

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To Make the Tech Sector Competitive, Antitrust Is Only Half the Answer

February 22, 2019 Antitrust , Competition , Competition Policy , FTC , Platform Regulation

It seems antitrust is finally having a new moment in the sun. From Attorney General Nominee Bill Barr to Senator Amy Klobuchar, to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to and even President Trump, everyone is talking about antitrust in the context of Internet platforms. While antitrust is a powerful tool and essential to the proper functioning of the economy, antitrust alone cannot eliminate the full array of harms caused by highly concentrated markets. The excessive market concentration and corporate power we see today resulted not only from conservative jurisprudence and lax antitrust enforcement but also excessive deregulation. Antitrust is not sufficient to rectify the very real problems reform advocates identify.

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A Real Remedy the FTC Should Demand of Facebook

December 20, 2018 Antitrust , Charlotte Slaiman , Data Protection , FTC , Platform Competition , Privacy

It seems almost every week there are new revelations about Facebook’s data use and sharing policies. The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Facebook for a potential consent decree violation related to the release of user data to Cambridge Analytica. The new allegations of data misuse in the New York Times this week may also be a violation of the consent decree. They are at least worthy of FTC investigation. And the cache of previously sealed litigation documents published by a British Member of Parliament earlier this month seem to indicate that Facebook may have been strategically withholding this valuable data from “strategic competitors” such as upstart Vine. Taken together, the two stories paint a frightening picture. Was Facebook granting access to private user data to cement its market position, offering it up to the powerful and wielding it as a cudgel against potential competitors? At the close of the current investigation, the FTC should demand remedies that protect users’ privacy while encouraging competition on the Facebook platform and against Facebook itself.

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Time for the FTC to Study Data and Labor Market Competition Issues

September 13, 2018 Antitrust , Charlotte Slaiman , Competition , Competition Policy , FTC , Platform Competition

The Federal Trade Commission is hosting a series of historic public hearings on the future of antitrust law that begin today. Gene Kimmelman, the President of Public Knowledge, is participating in the hearings. To continue these efforts to examine developments in competition throughout the economy, the FTC should launch two important studies to examine: 1) the impact of big data on platform power, and 2) the impact of consolidation on America’s workers. Americans are concerned about competition, but we don’t have the information we need in order to know whether it is stronger agency enforcement or possibly other policy tools that are needed to address these concerns.

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Due Process, and Our Approach to Dominant Online Platforms

May 24, 2018 Antitrust , Competition , Cybersecurity , Online Platforms , Privacy

Today, Public Knowledge released a paper, “Even Under Kind Masters,” that recommends that dominant internet platforms provide users with due process. It is just one component of our plan to increase the work we do relating to internet platforms.

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The Monopolies that No One Is Talking About

September 1, 2017 Antitrust , Cable Pricing , Competition , Competition Policy

Recently there’s been a lot of noise about monopolies and antitrust in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission approved Amazon’s bid to buy Whole Foods in August, and Google was served with a record breaking fine by the European Union’s antitrust regulator in June. These stories have been fueling the buzz around competition policy discussions in the U.S. People are suddenly discussing the relevance of the Sherman Act, passed over 100 years ago. People are talking about whether there are “new monopolies” that these tech platforms could have on internet search, internet shopping, and more. But mostly, people are looking around and realizing that after waves of consolidation, the U.S economy has a few big players at the top — and fewer options when they need to buy something be it online or in their hometown.

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Amazon in Review: What the Amazon-Whole Foods Merger Teaches Us About Antitrust

August 29, 2017 Antitrust , Antitrust Law , Competition , Competition Policy , Mergers

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.

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Key Takeaways from “A Communications Oligopoly on Steroids”

July 24, 2017 Antitrust , Competition , Competition Policy

Public Knowledge President and CEO Gene Kimmelman partnered with Consumer Federation of America Research Director Mark Cooper and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth to publish “A Communications Oligopoly on Steroids: Why antitrust enforcement and regulatory oversight in digital communications matter.” Here are the key takeaways.

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Private Interests Don’t Override the Law–in Music Publishing, Cable Boxes, or Anywhere Else

August 5, 2016 Antitrust , Copyright , FCC , Music Licensing , Unlock the Box

Two of the copyright issues Public Knowledge has been working on seem disconnected from each other, but there’s a common theme. In both the performance rights organization (PRO) and set-top box issues, policymakers should be clear in their understanding that private contracts can’t be used to override other provisions of law. Just as the interests of some industry participants don’t override legally-binding consent decrees, neither do they provide a reason for the Federal Communications Commission to ignore its statutory mandate to promote set-top box competition.

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Not the Agency You’re Looking For: The Copyright Office’s Misguided Antitrust Adventure

July 25, 2016 Antitrust , ASCAP , BMI , Copyright , Copyright Office

The increasing frequency with which the Copyright Office has inserted itself into policy debates raises questions about the scope of its expertise and authority. An illustrative example of how the Office’s opinions can cause problems occurred earlier this year. During the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division inquiry into how performance rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI license songs with multiple authors where not every author is a member of the PRO (i.e., where either PRO represents only a ‘fraction’ of the ownership stake in the song), a member of Congress sought out the opinion of the Copyright Office, and the Office responded. Although it’s unremarkable for an agency to offer its opinion in response to a lawmaker request, it is remarkable for that agency to reach into unfamiliar areas of law, ignore basic public policy concerns in that area of law, and offer its own unqualified judgment on matters properly within the jurisdiction of another agency.

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A Closer Look at the Department of Justice’s ASCAP and BMI Consent Decree Review

July 18, 2016 Antitrust , Copyright , Copyright Reform , Department of Justice , Music Licensing

The music publishing industry has reacted in colorful and apocalyptic terms in its response to the leak detailing the expected conclusion of the Department of Justice’s consent decree review, in which the agency extensively examined the antitrust settlements binding the two largest performance rights organizations (PROs) in the nation, ASCAP and BMI. A closer look at Department’s reported conclusions suggests that the music industry response is overblown.

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