How best to regulate big tech

ANY DAY now America’s Department of Justice (DoJ) will file a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of abusing its monopoly in online search. It will be the first big antitrust case in technology since the DoJ went after Microsoft in 1998. Expect William Barr, the attorney-general, to flaunt this as proof that the Trump administration is uncowed by big tech.

Political posturing notwithstanding, the lawsuit will be no Google-slayer. Few states are likely to join the case. The firm’s broader advertising business will probably not be targeted. If the Microsoft trial is a guide, the ordeal will drag on for years and be distracting for Google. But it is likely to end in a forgettable settlement—even under a President Joe Biden.

Potentially more consequential tech regulation is on the boil elsewhere, however. Many policymakers see antitrust suits filed after the fact (“ex post”) unfit for purpose in fast-moving tech markets. They are pushing for “ex ante” rules that would, as in other industries, constrain online platforms upfront. On October 6th a Congressional committee published a 449-page report on how America should update its competition law. Days earlier a laundry list of rules to be included in the EU’s Digital Services Act, an ambitious regulatory...

via Business Feeds

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