The American Prospect, December 2020
In the past two months, the federal government has filed more major anti-monopolization cases against large businesses (two of them) than in the previous 20 years (one of them). On top of that, two state coalitions have filed significant anti-monopolization cases against Google, while state attorneys general have separately joined the federal cases against Google and Facebook. One of the two state cases against Google alleges illegal monopoly coordination with Facebook, closing the circle.
These actions, focused on Big Tech, are critically important. They attack multiple aspects of the abuse of power that many companies in the sector exhibit. They include Google’s payments to Apple and other manufacturers and browser companies to entrench its search monopoly; its exploitation of customer data and manipulation of search results to benefit its own products; the duopoly rigging of the online advertising market; and Facebook’s illegal mergers to maintain its dominance.
Illegal tying, collusion through payoffs and market rigging, steering and self-preferencing allegedly “neutral” markets, and a growth-through-acquisition strategy practically run the gamut of monopoly behavior. And as one of the most powerful sectors in American life and politics, one that during the pandemic has only grown in strength and power, it’s natural to target Big Tech for antitrust enforcement.