Here’s What the World’s Top Antitrust Enforcers Are Thinking About Right Now

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The AdExchanger published an article covering highlights from the 46th Annual Fordham Law Conference on International Antitrust Law & Policy and included a quote from adjunct professor James Keyte, the director of the Fordham Competition Law Institute.

While there’s no denying that companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and even Netflix “are extremely strong,” their size in the market doesn’t automatically translate into an antitrust concern, said Isabelle de Silva, president of the Autorité de la Concurrence, France’s national competition regulator.

“We have heard a lot about the fact that big is bad, that big is a threat in itself, [and]this has led to the suggestion that we should dismantle some of these big players,” de Silva said Thursday, addressing a room of lawyers and economists at Fordham University’s annual conference on international antitrust law and policy in New York City.

But breakups are an extremely rare antitrust remedy.

“You must always remind yourself,” she said, “there have been large companies before.”

And so regulators are largely taking a measured approach, at least initially, by stress-testing existing regulation in the face of novel challenges posed by “new phenomena, new companies and, in a way, a new economic order,” said Andreas Mundt, president of Bundeskartellamt, the German federal cartel office.

A network effect, in the antitrust context, occurs when the value of goods or services improve the more people use them, like a social network with a critical mass of users or a search engine that gets smarter with every query.

People use these services because they’re good, and these services are good because people use them. But, from another perspective, network effects could be seen as potentially monopolistic, because they create an extremely high barrier to entry that, in theory at least, gets higher day by day.

Is this “evidence of innovation – or can it be cast in any way as connected to misconduct?” said James Keyte, director of the Fordham Competition Law Institute.

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