Over the past two years, numerous scholars and pundits have called for aggressive regulation of “Big Tech” companies, including Alphabet/Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. Some have called for them to be broken up. Meanwhile, governments in several jurisdictions, including the EU and Germany, have brought antitrust cases against several “Big Tech” companies, although so far they have not sought to impose structural remedies that would amount to an explicit breakup. U.S. authorities have taken numerous antitrust actions already and are considering more.
Much of the discussion of how to regulate “Big Tech” — and especially the discussion around “breaking up Big Tech” — has been heavy on rhetoric and light on substance. The topic has become politicized and is dominated by non-expert, ideologically-driven opinion.
At TOTM, we seek to correct this market distortion by offering a more balanced discussion of the issue. To that end, we have invited a number of respected economists, legal scholars, and practitioners to offer perspectives on the matter. Already up are posts by: Prof. Randal C. Picker, Dr. Philip Marsden, Prof. John Lopatka, and Pallavi Guniganti. We will be posting more over the coming days and weeks. Among the topics being explored are:
- What harms, if any, can be demonstrably attributed to “Big Tech” firms that might justify regulatory intervention (including but not limited to antitrust)?
- Would it be appropriate to “break up” large tech firms in response to feared harms?
- Is “break up” even possible? For instance, what would it even mean to break Facebook up into a “messaging platform” and a “social platform”?
- What costs might result from imposing structural remedies? (Of note: Might such remedies make platforms less useful to consumers — e.g. If a search engine cannot link directly to content it detects as most relevant, or if a social platform cannot include messaging?)
- Are there other remedies that would have net benefits to consumers? Or would it be better to leave “Big Tech” alone for now?
- Pallavi Guniganti, Editor, Global Competition Review
- John Lopatka, Distinguished Professor of Law, Penn State
- Philip Marsden, Senior Adviser, Charles River Associates
- Randal C. Picker, Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago
- William Eric Rinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy
- Thibault Schrepel, Faculty Associate at the Berkman Center at Harvard University and Assistant Professor in European Economic Law at Utrecht University School of Law.
- Alec Stapp, Research Fellow, International Center for Law & Economics
Series Posts (in order of posting)
- Breaking up Amazon? Platforms, Private Labels and Entry (Picker)
- Breaking Up: “It’s Not You, It’s Me”, “Maybe We Should See Other People” and “With or Without You” (Marsden)
- Big Tech and Antitrust (Lopatka)
- Separation Without a Breakup (Guniganti)
- Breaking up Facebook Would Be a Technical and Organizational Nightmare — and Would Almost Certainly Harm Consumers (Rinehart)
- Should We Break Up Big Tech? A Look Behind the (Political) Scenes (Schrepel)
- Why Don’t People Talk About Breaking Up Microsoft? (Stapp)