Nov 8, 2019

DOJ antitrust chief outlines role of data in antitrust review

Photo: Shannon Finney/WireImage via Getty Images.

Companies' collection and use of data could raise competitive concerns, the Justice Department's antitrust chief argued Friday in a speech about data's role at the intersection of Big Tech and antitrust.

Why it matters: The DOJ is conducting an antitrust review of tech companies' practices, and antitrust division head Makan Delrahim said that includes studying the role of data.

What they're saying: Delrahim acknowledged that data collection is not necessarily anticompetitive, but made it clear that he views it as an antitrust concern.

  • He said areas up for consideration include whether the scale of data collection has increased by "several magnitudes," the type of data collected and what it means when companies collect both user data and usage data, which cannot be easily replicated.
  • "Most notably, enforcers must confront the reality that data insights in the digital economy are combined across the ecosystem of the internet sometimes in ways that transcend product improvement and impact consumer choice altogether," Delrahim said, according to prepared remarks for a speech at an antitrust conference at Harvard Law School.

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Data is the new antitrust battleground

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are beginning to probe whether the biggest tech companies' handling of consumer data represents an unfair form of competition.

Why it matters: Consumer data is the fuel of the digital economy and the key to tech giants' market leverage. It is also challenging antitrust regulators’ ability to investigate competition issues, because today’s antitrust laws don’t specifically address data dynamics.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

DOJ scrutiny of tech could stretch beyond antitrust

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High-ranking antitrust enforcers, speaking at an influential D.C. legal forum, zeroed in on big tech companies' potential for anticompetitive behavior but also signaled they may take a broader approach to policing the industry.

The big picture: The Trump administration, Congress and state attorneys general are all investigating tech companies, including Google and Facebook, for antitrust violations. But they're also acknowledging that the laws governing competition may not be enough to rein in powerful online platforms.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019

DOJ will seek end to movie studio rules

Makan Delrahim. Photo: Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

The Justice Department will seek a court's approval to get rid of decades-old rules restricting how movie studios can distribute films, DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim said Monday.

Why it matters: While the DOJ and FTC are investigating tech companies for anticompetitive behavior, Delrahim warned against hurting innovation by over-enforcing or putting in place strict rules that could outlive their usefulness.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019