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The Case for the Digital Platform Act: Foreword by Tom Wheeler

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.

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

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

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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The Monopolies that No One Is Talking About

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

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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