Its the need to rein in Big Tech if theres one thing legislators from both sides of the aisle appear able to agree on.
Bipartisan assistance for taking Big Tech down a peg appeared throughout Jonathan Kanters election hearing prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
( The exact same bipartisan vibe was likewise on screen the day prior to when Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen affirmed prior to congress about Facebooks fondness for putting “revenues before people.”).
Kanter, a long time critic of the big tech platforms– and Google in specific– is President Joe Bidens pick to lead the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, which submitted an antitrust claim versus Google in October of last year focused on its alleged dominance of the search market.
However although the overall tone at Kanters election hearing was supportive and cordial, Republican senators did press him on past remarks disparaging the consumer welfare standard.
Feeling out the consumer well-being requirement.
The consumer welfare standard has actually become one of the essential ideas underpinning antitrust enforcement. In a nutshell, the requirement is used to identify whether company practices damage consumers based upon whether they trigger rates to fall or rise in the long term.

Progressive antitrust scholars– consisting of recently appointed Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan– have challenged the customer well-being requirement as a framework for antitrust enforcement.
Due to the fact that the basic concentrates on a stringent meaning of financial well-being and mostly disregards the unfavorable result that anticompetitive practices can have on development, labor, providers, political discourse, quality and social well-being, the progressive argument is that its not fit for function in the digital economy.
Google and Facebook, for example, supply most of their services for free, which indicates any harm they trigger isnt to do with rates. In digital markets, complimentary or nearly totally free items are supported by other parts of the service.
Aka the “Senator, we run ads” company design embraced by Mark Zuckerberg prior to Congress in 2018.
The lines are starting to blur between data security, personal privacy policy and antitrust enforcement, largely since of questions about the efficacy of the consumer welfare requirement as an example for assessing anticompetitive conduct.
This dynamic has caused a bit of friction in between Republicans and Democrats.
Many Democrats promote updating United States antitrust laws to take tech platforms with free services into account, while conservatives have actually long supported the customer well-being requirement due to the fact that its relatively simple to apply and prevents antitrust enforcement based upon difficult-to-measure intangibles.
Well, is it reasonable?
The closest Kanter pertained to a grilling throughout his nomination hearing remained in an exchange with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), when Kanter was asked whether the problem with the customer welfare standard isnt the basic itself but rather how its been used, which is by judges to “amuse speculative financial analysis.”.
Kanter agreed and repeated his view that the focus in antitrust enforcement should always be on protecting competition and any individual decision needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
What will that mean in the tech area?
Kanter had this to state in reaction to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who prodded him on how the customer welfare requirement may be applied to technology platforms.
Antitrust laws “need to resolve market realities and market truths have moved in dramatic methods” over simply the last 20 to 30 years, Kanter stated. This, in turn, has altered the kinds of harms that can be caused on society as a result of the concentrations of power.
” Those harms can embody privacy, can include the marketplace of ideas, the distribution of info and political discourse,” Kanter said. “To be reliable, the antitrust laws, in my view, need to be implemented in a manner that adapts to those market truths.”.