WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust released its long-awaited report proposing to rewrite the nation’s antitrust laws to address the market power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. For decades, antitrust enforcers have embraced the consumer welfare standard, the idea that antitrust laws should protect consumers. Instead, the House report criticizes that standard as a “narrow construction” that should not represent the “sole goal of the antitrust laws.” No Republicans signed onto the report.
“The report turns traditional antitrust law on its head,” said Asheesh Agarwal, Deputy General Counsel of TechFreedom. “It shatters a 30-year bipartisan consensus on antitrust law and replaces objective metrics that protect consumers with subjective standards that protect competitors, as well as ‘workers, entrepreneurs, independent businesses, open markets, a fair economy, and democratic ideals.’ This attempt to protect everything will protect nothing. If antitrust cases are no longer resolved by economic analysis, antitrust law will again become prone to being weaponized by competitors and politicians alike.”
“Everyone expected the majority to call to break up Big Tech,” Agarwal continued. “After all, Chairman Nadler has previously suggested that the large tech companies ‘cannot be allowed to exist in society’ and that leaders must go about ‘breaking up all the large companies.’ The verdict was foreordained from the start.”
“Paradoxically, the report concludes both that existing antitrust laws have been violated and also that they are not working and should be overhauled,” Agarwal noted. “The antitrust agencies and state attorneys general are apparently about to file suits any day now. Before rushing to change the laws, Congress should let those agencies and the courts do their jobs.”
“Perhaps worst of all, the report would hamstring American companies from investing in start-ups and operating in multiple markets, even as their Chinese and European competitors remain free to do so,” Agarwal concluded. “The House majority ignores reality: the U.S. and our leading companies are operating in a global marketplace. The biggest beneficiaries of the House’s approach would be the Chinese competitors of some of America’s most successful and innovative companies.”
We can be reached for comment at email@example.com. Read our related work including:
- Our comments on the draft vertical merger guidelines
- Our PR on the vertical merger guidelines
- Szóka’s op-ed in The Seattle Times: Trump vs. Bezos: The president is on the wrong side of the Constitution
- Our 2018 coalition letter to Jeff Sessions warning against using the antitrust laws to influence online speech
- Our statement on the court decision blocking DOJ’s lawsuit to stop the AT&T/Time Warner merger
- Our 2015 coalition letter urging Congress to bar the FCC from imposing merger conditions not specific to harms caused by a merger, or that the FCC could not impose by regulation
About TechFreedom:TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.