Randal C. Picker on Structural Separation and Self-Preferencing

Structural Separation and Self-Preferencing: What are the Right Lessons of History?

On Tuesday, the House antitrust subcommittee issued its majority staff report and recommendations, produced after an extended investigation of digital marketplaces that was especially focused on Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. The report itself is a beast, clocking in at 449 pages—and we still don’t have the minority report—and will bear careful study.

The report makes recommendations in three categories: restoring competition in the digital economy; strengthening the antitrust laws; and strengthening antitrust enforcement. I think this grouping is telling, as it suggests that there are real boundaries to what antitrust can be used for and that we will likely need to look outside of antitrust if we are looking to address the issues that these companies raise. That further suggests a view that antitrust isn’t some infinitely pliable doctrine that can be bent and twisted into some broader mechanism of social or industrial planning.

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