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A Reckoning for Big Tech?

With the European Union, the United States, and China all looking to crack down on Big Tech, the industry is bracing for impact in 2022. Though the showdown will play out differently in each jurisdiction, it is almost certain to lead to a far-reaching new settlement between markets and the state.

NEW YORK – In today’s geopolitical environment, world leaders agree on very little. But reining in Big Tech is emerging as one of the few ideas that everyone can get behind. From China to the European Union and the United States, public authorities are turning to antitrust law to curtail market power and promote fairer, more competitive economies. In the year ahead, we will likely see an even greater push for a new settlement between the markets and the state – with antitrust laws being at the heart of this effort, and large tech companies being the primary target.

The widely shared concern fueling this development is that Big Tech has simply grown too big. For years, tech giants have battled allegations that they favor their own products in online marketplaces that they operate, abuse their privileged access to consumer data for competitive gain, and stymie competition by acquiring every firm that threatens to challenge their market position. These practices leave little choice for consumers, who are now dependent on the products and services offered by a handful of companies.

The EU has long been leading the way in addressing these issues, by leveraging its antitrust laws to redistribute market power and enhance consumer welfare. Over the past decade, it has concluded three antitrust investigations against Google alone, resulting in almost $10 billion in fines. The European Commission is now investigating Google’s advertising technology and data-collection practices, Apple’s App Store and mobile payment systems, Facebook’s data collection and digital-advertising model, and Amazon’s operation of its marketplace. And EU regulators want to do even more.

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