European Regulators Wrong on Google Fine, Wrong on Antitrust Policy

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Statement in response to the European Union’s $5 billion fine of Google over Android antitrust issues:

Dominance and popularity are not the same as a coercive monopoly. The European Commission is behaving in protectionist fashion, not in a manner benefitting consumers, and the fines are inappropriate, unwarranted, and plain wrong. Google is no monopoly, as the existence of Apple’s iPhone and other options attest. There is always some new disruptive technology on the horizon (remember the MySpace monopoly? The AOL one?).

Different vendors have the right to test out different business models without interference from regulatory authorities, and consumers have the right to accept or reject them. And the core justification, the European Commission’s idea that people, otherwise capable of downloading millions of files on Play and iPhone mobile stores, cannot substitute a search engine or other preinstalled app is absurd on its face.   

Antitrust, in this case as in many others, amounts to the regulators granting forced access to a successful firm’s customer base, in order to allow competitors to sit still. Creating an environment in which rivals need not compete because a regulatory is handcuffing a rival is the opposite of competition.

Too much energy and too many billions are being wasted on the manipulation of free markets and derailment of wealth creation by favoritism. Antitrust alters the very trajectories of entire industries, creating entities and business structures that are not the product of competitive enterprise, but of political and regulatory manipulation.

There are many ways that predatory antitrust adventurism, such as that of the European Commission and the U.S. alike, must be reformed to prevent future damage to the technology sector. The very phrase “competition commissioner” is internally contradictory, and stands in stark contrast to the phrase “free enterprise.”