A late 1970’s television commercial for stock brokerage firm E.F. Hutton closed with the tagline, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” On technology-related policy matters in the 21st century, when Harold Feld talks, people listen. We now have the advantage of Harold’s speaking between two covers. The volume you hold in your hands is a tour de force of the issues raised by the digital economy and internet capitalism. Whether you agree or disagree with Harold, these thoughts will stretch your intellect and stimulate your thinking.
Today, Public Knowledge launches “Decoding Antitrust Law: A Primer for Advocates,” a new guide to antitrust law by Public Knowledge Competition Policy Counsel Charlotte Slaiman. The primer provides a basic foundation in antitrust law for policy advocates new to antitrust law, curious consumers, budding legal scholars, and anyone intrigued by what antitrust law is and how it can and can not be applied to address corporate concentration and increase competition.
According to reports, the Federal Trade Commission plans to open a study into the technology industry’s data practices. Called a “6(b)” study, this type of study enables the agency to broadly review an industry practice and allows the agency to compel information from witnesses. Public Knowledge previously urged the FTC to conduct such a study and commends the move to shine a light on the competitive impacts of these data practices.
Today, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced a proposal to promote competition by making “big, structural changes to the tech sector -- including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.” Public Knowledge commends Sen. Warren for showing a serious commitment to addressing the competition concerns we see in digital platforms, and her recognition that structural regulation is crucial to promoting competition, innovation, and economic freedom on the internet.
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.