July 30, 2020
This post collects some observations from yesterday’s lengthy House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law hearings with the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. In short, committee members addressed a lot of things they shouldn’t have, and did not address some things they perhaps should have.
July 29, 2020
Large, innovative tech companies have been invaluable during the COVID-19 crisis, helping to ease the burden of millions of Americans and businesses under quarantine. But that won’t stop the House Antitrust Subcommittee from dragging the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google before it today. The investigation will have a difficult time meeting the U.S. standard for antitrust: consumer harm.
July 23, 2020
Monday’s upcoming House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing featuring CEOs from Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple may turn out to have very little to do with antitrust. Don’t be surprised if members of the Committee focus more on those emotionally charged issues than on antirust criteria.
July 21, 2020
One of the key points of contention in any antitrust analysis is defining the scope of the market in question. Ignoring existing competitors by narrowing the field of analysis does not make them disappear, however. In fact, proceeding ahead with antitrust action based on insufficiently wide views of the market in question generally has the opposite of its intended effect.
July 1, 2020
Today the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement goes into effect. Despite its many flaws, it contains a beneficial provision related to the tech sector. The language of Article 19.17 of the USMCA is similar that of Section 230, the U.S. law governing intermediary liability for web services that has allowed the U.S. tech sector to grow into the dominant world leader we know it as today.
June 26, 2020
The recently-approved Sprint/T-Mobile merger is already coming under fire after layoffs were announced. But even the harshest critics begrudgingly acknowledge that the jobs being eliminated are no longer necessary because of the efficiencies gained by the merger. The focus on jobs alone as a measure of policy efficacy neglects how economically sustainable jobs are created in the first place.
June 24, 2020
The EARN IT Act is set for a markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as this Thursday. Essentially the bill conditions intermediary liability protections for web services, known as Section 230, on yet-to-be-determined regulatory guidance regarding online child sexual abuse material (CSAM). While the need to combat CSAM is clear, the EARN IT Act is a fundamentally flawed vehicle for doing so.
June 22, 2020
The European Union announced last week that it is pursuing two antitrust probes against the tech giant. EU authorities are investigating whether Apple violated European competition laws through its App Store or Apple Pay. Those cases will likely require some fancy footwork from European antitrust enforcers, but winning a case against Apple stateside would be an even bigger lift.
June 16, 2020
Sometime next month, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing on competition and antitrust featuring the CEOs of Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. All indications suggest that this hearing will be nothing more than a political stunt.
June 11, 2020
This week, four U.S. Senators asked the FCC to “take a fresh look at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act .” Real changes to Section 230 will require congressional action. You know, like the kind of thing U.S. Senators are elected to do. But the Senators know there’s little chance of legislation on this front.