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Resolved: The United States federal government should enforce antitrust regulations on technology giants (Bib, Ev release, Essays)

Resolved: The United States federal government should enforce antitrust regulations on technology giants (Bib, Ev release, Essays)

Intro Essay  Pro Essay . Con Essay

If I could only read 5 articles, what 5 would I read?

Background

The push to break up big tech, explained (2019). This article provides a good overview of the issue and explains why it is difficult to apply current (and newly proposed) antitrust regulations to the big tech issue. It is more of an overview article than a Con article, but it could be read as a Con article.

Why were the big tech companies allowed to get so big? (2019). This brief article covers the basics of the antitrust issues related to big tech.

Apple to face EU Antitrust complaint over Spotify (2019).

Pro

It’s time to break-up Facebook (May 2019). This article is written by the co-founder of Facebook.

Here’s How We can Break Up Big Tech (2019). This is Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break-up Big Tech.

How to think about breaking up big tech (2019), This article answers common objections to Warren’s proposal.

Con

Will Elizabeth Warren’s plan to use antitrust to break up big tech work? (2019). This is a good overview of Warren’ s plan and antitrust law. Although brief, it has a good focus on antitrust law and some of the challenges of applying it to Big tech.

Breaking up platforms has sickening implications (2019).  This article identifies some practical problems with breaking up platforms for consumers.

Antitrust in the digital age (2018). Antitrust law in the U.S., as it exists today, does a good job of regulating abuses of supply, such as control of oil production, electricity transmission and distribution and access to telecom lines. What antitrust law does not do – nor what it ever was intended to do – is regulate demand. Contrary to powerful companies of the past, many of today’s largest technology and internet firms have grown to be hugely successful not because they have aggregated supply, but rather because they have benefited from the aggregation of consumer demand.12 Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (referred to sometimes as FAANG) did not engage in abusive or anticompetitive practices to corner an entire industry supply chain; on the contrary, they created superior products and services – initially competing in hyper-competitive markets – that have won the loyalty of millions, and in some cases, billions of users. To the extent that these companies do have monopoly power, they are natural monopolies – and they fought hard, but fairly, to become so. Moreover, today’s leading technology firms are the very type of free-market success stories that U.S. antitrust law seeks to enable. So long as they do not abuse their market power, U.S. antitrust law has no measures by which to punish them.

General/Background

The push to break up big tech, explained (2019). This article provides a good overview of the issue and explains why it is difficult to apply current (and newly proposed) antitrust regulations to the big tech issue. It is more of an overview article than a Con article, but it could be read as a Con article.

Gigantism of big data forces another look at antitrust (2019). The is a brief and general overview of some of the pros and cons of big tech, but it has a very limited discussion of anti-trust.

Will Elizabeth Warren’s plan to use antitrust to break up big tech work? (2019).; This is a good overview of Warren’ s plan and antitrust law. Although brief, it has a good focus on antitrust law and some of the challenges of applying it to Big tech.

Technology giants are fiercely competitive monopolies (2018). This is a very technical look at bit tech and monopolies, but it does offer some useful definitions If you read this, I’d stay focused on the definitions and not worry about the technical details.

FCC creates task force to monitor tech industry (2019). This article simply describes a task force that has been created to monitor anti-competitive practices. It is a bit of an FYI (For Your Information), but it could also be used on the Con to argue that there is an investigation into anti-competitive practice and it is too early to regulate, especially through application of antitrust.

How big tech is violating anti trust laws (2019). This is a short, straightforward article on CNN.com on why/how Big Tech is violating antitrust law, but the argument is very general.

Big-tech and the resurgence of antitrust (2019). This article explains the history of antitrust, including historical support and opposition. It highlights some of the pros and cons of applying antitrust law to big tech.

Antitrust case against big tech (2019). Audio debate on the topic.

Technology and its Discontents: Taking Stock of Antitrust and Technological Change In the Early 21st Century (2018).

Experts cast doubt on Warren’s antitrust plan (2019). This article is a good overview of the issues related to the topic. It leans Con, but it’s not decisively Con.

Pro

Here’s How We can Break Up Big Tech (2019). This is Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to break-up Big Tech.

How to think about breaking up big tech (2019), This article answers common objections to Warren’s proposal.

Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox (2017). This law review Note, written by a Yale Law student, “argues that the current framework in antitrust—specifically its pegging competition to “consumer welfare,” defined as short-term price effects—is unequipped to capture the architecture of market power in the modern economy. We cannot cognize the potential harms to competition posed by Amazon’s dominance if we measure competition primarily through price and output. Specifically, current doctrine underappreciates the risk of predatory pricing and how integration across distinct business lines may prove anticompetitive. These concerns are heightened in the context of online platforms for two reasons. By focusing exclusively on price and not market dominance, the concentration of economic power and power

This Note is obviously more advanced reading, but it is important to note (no pun intended) that it was written by someone who has become a leading advocate on this issue –Lina Kahn.

More articles that interview/quote Lina Khan.

The problem with profits (2016). This Business week article argues the concentration of economic power is bad.

The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the new Guilded Age (2018).  This new (fall 2018) book by Tim Lu outlines a persuasive case fo regulating Big Tech with antitrust law.

Technology monopolies are stifling innovation (2018).  Tim Lu, Law professor, a vocal critic of tech monopolies, has made the case that a more robust approach to antitrust enforcement will lead to more domestic competition and innovation.

America’s antitrust apparatus prepares to act against big tech (2018). This article argues that breaking up big tech could protect privacy and lead to the creation of more ethical search engine companies.

Big tech companies follow antitrust laws (2017). Big tech firms challenge traditional assumptions about anti-trust enforcement. This article argues that big tech’s enormous economic power translates into increased political power and that need to be concerned about the long-term effects of concentrated power on consumers and on freedom.

The Antitrust Case Against Facebook: A Monopolist’s Journey Towards Pervasive Surveillance in Spite of Consumers’ Preference for Privacy (2019). The Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) social network, this era’s new communications service, plays an important role in the lives of 2+ billion people across the world. Though the market was highly competitive in the beginning, it has since consolidated in Facebook’s favor. Today, using Facebook means to accept a product linked to broad-scale commercial surveillance—a paradox in a democracy. This Paper argues that Facebook’s ability to extract this qualitative exchange from consumers is merely this titan’s form of monopoly rents. The history of early competition, Facebook’s market entry, and Facebook’s subsequent rise tells the story of Facebook’s monopoly power. However, the history which elucidates this firm’s dominance also presents a story of anticompetitive conduct. Facebook’s pattern of false statements and misleading conduct induced consumers to trust and choose Facebook, to the detriment of market competitors and consumers’ own welfare.

It might time to break up the giants (2019). This is a short article that provides examples of Amazon, Google, and Facebook violating anti-monopoly law.

The giantism of big tech forces a fresh look at antitrust (2019). This article is a bit longer. While it also concludes Pro, it is a good overview of the issue and provide supporting arguments for both sides.

Zuckerburg is a robber baron (2018). The article is not a good as its title, but it is useful for basic background reading.

Con — General

Antitrust in the digital age (2018). Antitrust law in the U.S., as it exists today, does a good job of regulating abuses of supply, such as control of oil production, electricity transmission and distribution and access to telecom lines. What antitrust law does not do – nor what it ever was intended to do – is regulate demand. Contrary to powerful companies of the past, many of today’s largest technology and internet firms have grown to be hugely successful not because they have aggregated supply, but rather because they have benefited from the aggregation of consumer demand.12 Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (referred to sometimes as FAANG) did not engage in abusive or anticompetitive practices to corner an entire industry supply chain; on the contrary, they created superior products and services – initially competing in hyper-competitive markets – that have won the loyalty of millions, and in some cases, billions of users. To the extent that these companies do have monopoly power, they are natural monopolies – and they fought hard, but fairly, to become so. Moreover, today’s leading technology firms are the very type of free-market success stories that U.S. antitrust law seeks to enable. So long as they do not abuse their market power, U.S. antitrust law has no measures by which to punish them.

The Worst Idea (so far) in the Democrats war on Big Tech (2019). This article attacks Elizabeth’s Warren’s idea to break up big tech.

Last place big tech wants to be is on the defense (2019). This article argues that more regulation will benefit large companies and reduce international competitiveness.

The Microsoft Myth: We shouldn’t assume more antitrust will give us more tech innovation (2019).

Antitrust in a time of populism (2018). This law review article argues against antitrust legislation, arguing that we only have to worry about the concentration of political power and not economic power.  This is the opposite of Khan’s argument that contends that we need to worry about the concentration of economic power.

Competition is for Losers (2014). This article by Peter Thiel makes a similar argument about why the concentration of economic power is good.

It’s hard to compete with tech giants — But it can be done (2018). For one thing, a main characteristic of a monopoly is price gouging. Today’s in

Warren wants to turn Facebook into a sewer service (2019). The article is not as good as the title, but it does identify practical problems with breaking up Amazon and Facebook.

Critics are wary of the antitrust task force (2019), This article discusses the new antitrust review board that is designed to look into antitrust issues but that many people fear that it will not take any action.

Where Warren’s wrong (2019). This article directs arguments against many of the articles behind Warren’s proposal.

Warren’s populist Puritanism (2018). This article argues that the mere existence of a large companies does not mean there are anti-competitive practices.

Breakup big tech won’t work as a policy (2019).  “And since these businesses tend to be characterized by network effects — meaning that sites such as Facebook become more valuable to users as more users join them — you can’t break up their core services without taking away something we really want. Splitting Facebook or Amazon or Google Search in two would create substantially less useful services. But slicing off big tech’s peripheral offerings won’t substantially diminish the power that really bothers people.”

Don’t break up big tech (2019).  This is all silly, as are the mergers that Warren pledges to reverse, including Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon doesn’t have anything close to a monopoly in food retail. Rather than taking over the sector, it’s spurring investment and innovation. The nation’s largest supermarket chain, Kroger, was slated to increase its spending on investment 200 percent in 2018 The tech giants aren’t stand-pat companies. Amazon alone spent more than $22 billion on investment in 2017. The development of autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and voice recognition wouldn’t be nearly as advanced if it weren’t for the research of the tech companies. The behemoth of yesteryear, General Electric, isn’t making these investments. None of this is to deny genuine concerns about tech companies. They need rules for content that honor the spirit of the First Amendment, and perhaps there should be tighter regulations around privacy. But any real offenses should be addressed with fixes directed at specific conduct, rather than with a massive politically imposed reorganization.

Antitrust action may be impossible (2019). This brief article discusses some practical problems with breaking up Facebook, primarily that people want to be on the same social network as their friends

How radical is Warren’s plan? (2019) “But the problem with Amazon, Facebook et. al. isn’t that they are monopolies who don’t respect the “rules” of the “free market.” It’s that they are for profit enterprises to begin with! Exploitation and monopolization are inherent to capitalism, and this is what Warren’s plans fundamentally fail to address—that exploitation and profit are inherently linked. To fix the problems that come with Silicon Valley companies—the invasion of privacy, the exploitation of workers at home and abroad, the support for US militarism and the problems of content moderation—means moving beyond the horizons of capitalism altogether.”

Antitrust is a fatal distraction (2018). This article says that threatening the application of antitrust law diverts corporate resources away from running the business and fails in the end.

Rethinking competition for the digital age (2019) video

Antitrust and big tech (2019) audio

Con — Should Not Use Antitrust to Regulate Big Data

Does antitrust have a role to play in regulating big data? (2017). Part II details the ways in which Big Data may prove pro-competitive while Part III reviews and critiques the suggested potential harms to competition from Big Data. Part IV discusses the suitability of antitrust as the institutional choice for Big Data issues, and Part V concludes that, at present, antitrust is ill suited as the institutional choice. This conclusion is further born by the fact that thus far there have been no cases in the United States or Europe that have found Big Data itself to be a basis for a theory of harm on antitrust grounds for mergers or conduct cases. Further, the scholarly case for such harm has not yet been adequately established.

This is a longer law review article that specifically addresses the question of whether or not anti-trust law should be used to regulate data. It does not generally address the question of applying anti-trust law to big tech.

Ohlhausen, Maureen K. and Alexander P. Okuliar 2015. Competition, Consumer Protection, And the Right [Approach] To Privacy, Antitrust Law Journal 80: 121-156 (2015) Ohlhausen and Okuliar present a three-part framework for analyzing Big Data concerns. First, they focus on the character of the harm – whether it is commercial, personal or otherwise. They conclude that where there is harm to consumer welfare on the whole or to economic efficiency, antitrust should prevail over consumer protection law as a matter of institutional choice. Second, they examine the nature of the relationship between the user and the data collector, and determine that issues arising from the bargain between a firm and an individual consumer are more likely to fall within the realm of consumer protection law than antitrust. Third, they consider the nature of available remedies and their presumed efficiency in resolving particular violations. Ultimately, the authors advise that trying to fit consumer protection concerns within the antitrust framework is “unnecessary,” “could lead to confusion and doctrinal issues in antitrust,” and would not afford “true gains to consumer protection.”

Cooper, James C. 2013. Privacy and Antitrust: Underpants Gnomes, the First Amendment, and Subjectivity, George Mason Law Review 20(4): 1129-1146.