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Antitrust Investigations against Tech Threaten to Hamper Pandemic Response and Recovery

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released a new report today arguing that large technology companies are making invaluable contributions to our quality of life during the pandemic, but threats to break them apart using antitrust regulations would ultimately harm consumers by impeding innovations.

Authored by CEI experts Jessica Melugin, Ryan Young, and former CEI research fellow Patrick Hedger as part of CEI’s #NeverNeeded campaign to eliminate unnecessary regulations, the paper makes the case that each of the largest tech companies – including Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple – have used their platforms to enable Americans to safely communicate, shop, and eat at a time when a public health crisis massively reduces the amount of human contact and face-to-face economic activity possible.

But instead of leaving these companies space to further innovate, politicians and bureaucrats – including an administration that touts its deregulatory record – are pushing a potpourri of antitrust investigations that seem politically-motivated and are certain to have a chilling effect on a critical part of our economy.

Historically, the U.S. standard for invoking antitrust law is consumer harm. But in recent years, academics, politicians, and bureaucrats have tried to radically expand the definition of antitrust violations to include data practices, privacy concerns, competitor interests, the environment, economic inequality, and perceived political power.

“Investigating the practices of companies who are fiercely competitive with each other – including some that are providing their services free to consumers – using antitrust in these cases starts to look like a solution in search of a problem,” said associate director of CEI’s Center for Technology and Innovation Jessica Melugin.

“In the midst of a pandemic when so many Americans are relying on technology to help them put food on their table and stay in touch with loved ones separated by distance, the real cost of antitrust is the innovation it prevents,” said senior fellow Ryan Young. “The risk of precluding advances, synergies, and solutions that could prove critical to a struggling economy and a stressed people is too high to justify these frivolous investigations.”

Read the full report here.

For more on CEI’s position on antitrust: cei.org/antitrust

For more on CEI’s #NeverNeeded campaign: neverneeded.cei.org