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TOTM In the final analysis, what the revelations do not show is that the FTC’s market for ideas failed consumers a decade ago when it declined to bring an antitrust suit against Google.
Politico has released a cache of confidential Federal Trade Commission (FTC) documents in connection with a series of articles on the commission’s antitrust probe into Google Search a decade ago. The headline of the first piece in the series argues the FTC “fumbled the future” by failing to follow through on staff recommendations to pursue antitrust intervention against the company.
Read the full piece here.
TOTM The next chair has an awfully big pair of shoes (or one oversized coffee mug) to fill. Chairman Pai established an important legacy of transparency and process improvement, as well as commitment to careful, economic analysis in the business of the agency.
One of the themes that has run throughout this symposium has been that, throughout his tenure as both a commissioner and as chairman, Ajit Pai has brought consistency and careful analysis to the Federal Communications Commission (McDowell, Wright). The reflections offered by the various authors in this symposium make one thing clear: the next administration would do well to learn from the considered, bipartisan, and transparent approach to policy that characterized Chairman Pai’s tenure at the FCC.
Regulatory Comments ICLE comments filed Feb. 1, 2021, to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in response to the FTC's Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking concerning future amendments to the premerger notification rules under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
We thank the Commission for the opportunity to comment on its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) concerning future amendments to the premerger notification rules under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act (“HSR’’).
The International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center whose work promotes the use of law & economics methodologies to inform public policy debates. We believe that intellectually rigorous, data-driven analysis will lead to efficient policy solutions that promote consumer welfare and global economic growth.
ICLE’s scholars have written extensively on competition and consumer protection policy. Some of our writings are included as references in the comment below. Additional materials may be found at our website: www.laweconcenter.org.
Our comment argues that the FTC’s rulemaking initiatives should be informed by the error-cost framework. As we explain, the framework offers several key insights that authorities should carefully consider when reviewing existing merger rules and guidance.
Among other things, it demonstrates that the societal costs stemming from false negatives (i.e. anticompetitive mergers that evade antitrust enforcement) are inextricably linked to those that originate from false positives (efficient mergers that are prohibited or deterred) and administrative costs (the social costs that are created by the operation of a given regulatory regime). As a result, any attempt to reduce one of these costs necessary entails a tradeoff as far as the others are concerned. All three costs should thus be considered together.
In short, we urge the FTC to take a holistic view when updating HSR rules and interpretations of those rules. In particular, it is important to consider the overall welfare costs of new rules, and not just their ability to plug existing enforcement gaps.
Read the full comments here.
TL;DR The European Union has unveiled draft legislation that seeks to tame so-called “gatekeeper” Big Tech firms. If passed into law, this Digital Markets Act (“DMA”) would create a list of “dos and don’ts” by which the platforms must abide, such as allowing interoperability with third parties and sharing data with rivals.
The European Union has unveiled draft legislation that seeks to tame so-called “gatekeeper” Big Tech firms. If passed into law, this Digital Markets Act (“DMA”) would create a list of “dos and don’ts” by which the platforms must abide, such as allowing interoperability with third parties and sharing data with rivals. In short, the DMA would give the European Commission significant powers to tell tech companies how to run their businesses.
The DMA essentially shifts competition enforcement against gatekeeper platforms away from an “effects” analysis that weighs costs and benefits to a “blacklist” approach that proscribes all listed practices as harmful. This will constrain platforms’ ability to experiment with new products and make changes to existing ones, limiting their ability to innovate and compete.
Read the full explainer here.
TOTM Ajit Pai has been, in my view, the most successful, impactful minority commissioner in the history of the modern regulatory state. And it is that success that has led him to become the most successful and impactful chairman, too.
Much of this symposium celebrates Ajit’s contributions as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and his accomplishments and leadership in that role. And rightly so. But Commissioner Pai, not just Chairman Pai, should also be recognized.
TOTM The technical and business challenges of connecting rural America are different. Rural America needs different things out of its infrastructure than urban America. And the attitudes of both users and those providing service are different here than they are in urban America. Aji Pai gets this.
I was having a conversation recently with a fellow denizen of rural America, discussing how to create opportunities for academics studying the digital divide to get on-the-ground experience with the realities of rural telecommunications. He recounted a story from a telecom policy event in Washington, D.C., from not long ago. The story featured a couple of well-known participants in federal telecom policy as they were talking about how to close the rural digital divide. The punchline of the story was loud speculation from someone in attendance that neither of these bloviating telecom experts had likely ever set foot in a rural town.
TOTM Google is facing a series of lawsuits in 2020 and 2021 that challenge some of the most fundamental parts of its business, and of the internet itself — Search, Android, Chrome, Google’s digital-advertising business, and potentially other services as well.
Google is facing a series of lawsuits in 2020 and 2021 that challenge some of the most fundamental parts of its business, and of the internet itself — Search, Android, Chrome, Google’s digital-advertising business, and potentially other services as well.
TOTM President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for repeal of Section 230. But while Trump and fellow conservatives decry Big Tech companies for their alleged anti-conservative bias, . . .
President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for repeal of Section 230. But while Trump and fellow conservatives decry Big Tech companies for their alleged anti-conservative bias, including at yet more recent hearings, their issue is not actually with Section 230. It’s with the First Amendment.
TL;DR It comes as no surprise to anyone that illegal conduct occurs online. Unfortunately, the individuals and businesses engaging in illegal activity may avoid detection by using tools that hide their identity. This makes enforcement difficult or even impossible.
It comes as no surprise to anyone that illegal conduct occurs online. Unfortunately, the individuals and businesses engaging in illegal activity may avoid detection by using tools that hide their identity. This makes enforcement difficult or even impossible.
In some cases, there may be targeted solutions available whereby intermediaries are required to record and verify the identity of business customers. In principle, this approach could be used to directly pursue parties actually liable for illicit content with minimal burden on either the platforms, or non-business customers.