Digital Platform Regulation
Our basis for this project on digital platforms is that antitrust enforcement will not be enough – by itself – to generate competition and good outcomes for consumers. Particularly given the slow start to antitrust enforcement in this sector, some sort of US regulation of digital platforms will be needed going forward, just as Europe has recently adopted the DMA and the DSA. US citizens and consumers will benefit if that regulation promotes competition and innovation.
Yale students have come together to write a collection of policy papers on important issues in digital platform regulation. The papers address questions such as: What kind of agency will be best to regulate platforms? How could rulemaking be designed to increase competition? What are technical means to create interoperability? How should algorithms be evaluated? How can blockchain be used anticompetitively? How would the divestiture of the Android operating system change competition in general search?
Regulation can have many goals including protection of consumers, redistribution of surplus, elimination of bias, promotion of innovation, and importantly, protection and enhancement of competition. The TAP approach is to think of competition as a ‘whole of government’ activity, and therefore regulation of digital platforms is another tool to strengthen competition in this sector. The regulatory ideas that follow are designed to be pro-competitive: they lower barriers to entry, make product attributes salient to consumers, and lower switching costs (e.g. a privacy regulation should not entrench the dominant firm and raise entry barriers). Carefully designed regulations on privacy, security, portability, interoperability, etc., make competition stronger.
Student paper topics follow along with the names of the authors.
1. What is the Optimal Regulatory Structure to Govern Digital Platforms?
4. Regulating Content Recommendation Algorithms in Social Media
5. Manipulating, Fast and Slow
6. Mandating Interoperability for Online and Mobile Messaging Services Through FTC Rulemaking
7. Taking Behavioralism Seriously in Digital Markets
8. Zero-Rating as Exclusionary Conduct
9. Android Divestiture and a Roadmap from AT&T
10. FCC Rulemaking + REST API: Fostering Social Media Interoperability
Competition Policy Modules
The challenge taken on by TAP students in the 2020–21 school year was to write a series of modules to identify settings where competition is weak or absent and propose policy solutions. The students divided into teams to cover 3 areas: agriculture, finance, and labor. They spoke with researchers and used public information to make arguments about anticompetitive behavior and harm in each sector. Below are the three modules that resulted.
Digital Platform Theories of Harm
The challenge taken on by TAP students in the 2019–20 school year was to write a series of digital platform theories of harm. The students divided into teams to cover 4 platforms and 5 theories. They used public information to make arguments about anticompetitive behavior and harm in each setting. Below are the five papers that resulted. The students presented their findings to staff and Commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission in May 2020.