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Can Computational Tools Revitalize Antitrust Enforcement?

 |  June 15, 2023

By: Giovanna Massarotto (ProMarket)

Antitrust emerged during a period when technological progress was disrupting markets. The advent of railroads in the United States during the nineteenth century revolutionized business operations, ushering in a new era of competition on a larger scale. Likewise, the telegraph, radio, and telephone transformed human interactions. However, in the 1890s, there was a surge of public animosity towards large corporations like Standard Oil, likely fueled by apprehension and a sense of powerlessness in this unfamiliar technological landscape. The government was regarded as a safe haven, a central authority capable of regulating these burgeoning high-volume markets.

In this altered economic landscape, antitrust law was devised as a mechanism to prevent trade-restraining agreements and monopolistic practices in markets. These fresh policies were rooted in Adam Smith’s theories of competition and intertwined with principles derived from common law and contract law. Antitrust law served as a means to safeguard economic freedom.

In any game, there are winners and losers. Antitrust did not alter this paradigm. Instead, its role has always been to ensure equitable conduct among market participants. Despite the evolving nature of markets, which have increasingly become dynamic and centered around digital platforms rather than physical ones, the mission of antitrust has remained constant and should continue to do so. Antitrust’s focal point remains the prevention of collusion and monopolization in markets, irrespective of whether they exist in the digital or physical realm…