New Competition Regulations Aimed at Big Tech
On June 11, 2021, the US House introduced five antitrust bills aimed at Big Tech. At the same time, across the Atlantic, a meeting in Cornwall, England, of the Group of Seven world leaders ended with a joint communique calling for cooperation on a number of digital matters.
The communique says G7 countries will find a “coherent way to encourage competition and support innovation in digital markets” and acknowledges that many countries believe that “participants with significant market power can exploit their power to hold back digital markets and the wider economy.” The communique also calls on all states to “urgently identify and disrupt ransomware criminal networks operating from within their borders, and hold those networks accountable for their actions.” It pledges that G7 countries will promote secure information technology and communications supply chains.
These developments represent the latest attempts by governments and competition agencies around the world at “rethinking” traditional antitrust and consumer protection tools of analysis and enforcement to adapt to the challenges posed by digital markets, with a particular focus on digital platforms’ alleged “gatekeeper” role and the collation of, and access to, data.
Commentators consider that the new US bills would align with the EU proposed Digital Markets Act, which (if adopted) will prevent digital markets “gatekeepers” from engaging in a list of black-listed conducts, including “walled gardens”, non-interoperable interfaces and systems, data accumulation, default settings, barriers to switching and the pre-installation of apps and services.