February 22, 2019 - Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn and Expert Hal Singer Brief Congressional Staff on Approaches to Platform Competition

Institute Fellow Gigi Sohn and competition expert Hal Singer joined the Institute’s Executive Director Alexandra Givens Friday to brief Hill staff on approaches to platform competition.

There is increasing public conversation about the power and dominance of online platforms. Some dominant platforms are vertically integrated to serve both as platform provider and input provider: for example, Amazon is both a platform for online commerce and a merchandizer via Amazon’s private label. Comcast serves both as a platform to deliver video services and as an owner of some of those same services. Vertical mergers, such as Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, have proceeded with few impediments. To date, discrimination (or appropriation) by vertically integrated online platforms against similarly situated rivals has gone largely unchecked.

How should Congress and antitrust enforcers think about these issues? Do our antitrust laws need to be updated for the Internet era — and if so, how? Should Congress embrace other regulatory tools to fill the gaps in antitrust law?

The speakers have long worked on these and related issues. A paper by Gigi Sohn on this topic was published last year in the Platform Symposium issue of The Georgetown Law Technology Review, available here. Hal Singer, an adjunct professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, has been advocating about a potential nondiscrimination regime for online platforms in remarks before the FTC available here.