Platform regulation – Public knowledge


Digital platforms like Google and Facebook have become huge digital gatekeepers, controlling access to increasingly large swathes of the internet while leaving consumers little or no choice online. Today we have a dominant search engine, social network and e-commerce platform. These companies are free to exploit consumers and crush emerging competitors to stay on top, unless we stop them.

The gargantuan size of today’s Big Tech titans drives network effects – a gravitational pull that draws consumers and investments to the biggest platforms – and not necessarily the best. This limits consumer choice by diverting attention away from innovative and smaller platforms.

These dominant platforms then leverage user data and their increasing returns in scope and scale to grow to gigantic size and make market entry insane for all potential competitors. At the same time, platforms limit the ability of consumers to control the detailed information taken from them for profit. Finally, digital platforms are able to take advantage of their dual role of market monitor and participant to self-prefer and develop in new markets.

Unfortunately, the antitrust law and our enforcement mechanisms have proven insufficient to tackle the Big Tech problem. Decades of hostile court precedents, skeptical judges, and lax enforcement have allowed Big Tech to rise relatively unchecked.

Public Knowledge strives to give consumers more choice and power online by supporting new pro-competition tools such as interoperability and non-discrimination. We are also supporting equipping law enforcement agencies with greater funding and strong leadership to help revitalize competition in digital markets. We urge Congress to pass tech-specific laws to curb Big Tech, as well as comprehensive federal privacy law. Finally, we plead for Congress to create a new digital controller to use these cutting-edge tools.

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