Despite the grappling with widespread misinformation and allegations of political bias by Facebook and Google, several demands for the government to control the tech industry never bore fruits in Washington.
Now the regulators have the only best option, and that is to conduct meetings and more meetings to force them to oblige. The Federal Trade Commission has held the first such conference among the series to determine whether it should bring in a change in its approach towards businesses in light of rising consolidation across corporate America and also the emergence of new technologies like artificial intelligence.
Top officials are trying to convey through their polite speeches that there is a big shift in waiting for the enforcement policy.
“I approach all of these issues with a very open mind, and I am very much willing to be influenced by what we hear throughout this process,” FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said in kicking off the event. “I am old enough to have witnessed dramatic changes in antitrust policy and enforcement during my own career.”
The Justice Department is expected to hold a convention of state attorneys general later this month with regard to the taking a decision to charge tech platforms of whether they did harm the competition and hid the free exchange of ideas online.
But despite the repeated demand by the critics for intervention in to these issues, experts seems to be divided on how the government could even begin to understand those complaints and take them under the legal framework or federal policy.
During the Thursday’s hearing, several economists and lawyers debated the finer points about the agency’s mission. The revealed data displaying how the corporate power in many industries ranging from airlines to hospitals has become increasingly concentrated.
But the competition experts seem to be confused with the questions and are thinking whether there is really a need to solve a problem and what economic data could prove it. And do the antitrust regulators really belong to it or anyone in the government needs to take the responsibility.
All these kind of basic questions needs to be solved first by framing questions to policymakers before they can consider any course of action.
“My read of the evidence is, at the aggregate, we don’t know much that’s relevant to the formation of antitrust policy,” said Joshua Wright, a Republican former FTC commissioner.
But according to the experts, this is particularly troublesome and when it comes to connecting allegations of political bias on various tech platforms to antitrust law.
“So long as Google doesn’t vertically integrate into news, the conduct is not discriminatory” from an economic perspective, Hal Singer, an economist at George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy, said in a recent interview.