What are we regulating for?

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The general anxiety which animates current efforts to regulate ‘Big Tech’ reflects a coalescence of concerns about tracking, ‘surveillance’, privacy violations, misinformation and fake news, addiction, hate speech, leveraging of market power, cascading monopolies, killer acquisitions and reverse variant, exploitation, foreclosure, undermining of innovation – amplified by giant size, extravagant profitability and phenomenal market capitalisations. And by concerns about de facto ‘unelected governments’ taking decisions of systemic importance while engaging in huge lobbying efforts.

Antitrust enforcement (slow, backward looking, constrained by precedent and clueless on remedies) has failed to make a dent into the power of the main actors, and while there is something of an ‘antitrust awakening’ (especially in the US after 20 years of near-death) this failure has led to a strong pivot towards ex-ante regulation. We decided that “we need smart ex-ante regulation of digital, bright rules, because antitrust just cannot get us there”.

In this article Cristina Caffarra discusses why the current regulation proposals, however, will have limited upside for greater digital diversity and meaningful competition.

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