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Populists’ Overreach On Antitrust And Big Tech

 |  December 8, 2022

By Gary Winslett, Middlebury College

Spurred on by populists in both parties, Congress is considering a range of bills that would radically remake American antitrust policy in the name of reining in Big Tech. Passing these bills would be a serious mistake. They would do great harm and very little good. While there are reasonable criticisms of the Big Tech firms to be made, a close examination of the facts and evidence related to antitrust show that the case for this big revision of competition policy is actually quite weak. In this paper, I begin by explaining the interacting visions of competition that underlie American antitrust policy. I then examine each of the main antitrust-oriented charges that today’s populists make against the Big Tech companies and show why those charges are not as persuasive as they may at first seem. I end the paper by arguing that a sector-based understanding of antitrust can lead to a more effective competition policy posture than that advocated by populists.

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