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Lunch Discussion: Antitrust, Big Tech, and the Public Interest

April 21 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Would smaller, less powerful technology companies better serve the public interest? Many advocates have questioned the influence that large technology companies wield over everything from retail markets and consumer data to public expression and election integrity.

But some technology-related services widely believed to serve the public interest involve significant fixed costs that may be difficult for smaller companies to provide. Robust content moderation, data security, and near-100% uptime are all feasible for companies with billions of dollars in revenue and vast teams with technical expertise, but may present challenges for smaller companies, such as those that would result from requiring the breakup of modern tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Meta.

Do the benefits of breaking up large companies outweigh the potential costs? Are there less costly alternatives that would deliver similar public benefits? How might antitrust law and enforcement need to change to deliver the right balance?

Please join HLS Effective Altruism for lunch to discuss these questions and other issues related to tech and antitrust enforcement.

HLS Effective Altruism is a community for law students interested in using evidence and careful reasoning to take actions that help others as much as possible. Our events are open to all members of the Harvard community. Learn more and join our mailing list by visiting https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/effectivealtruism/

If you or an event participant requires disability-related accommodations for any event at HLS, please contact Accessibility Services, at accessibility@law.harvard.edu or 617-495-8773, in advance of the event.

Optional background reading:

For background on the antitrust problem in the context of large technology companies and analysis of two potential strategies for addressing the problem within the antitrust framework, see Lina M. Khan, Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, 126 Yale L. J. 710 (2017), https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-paradox.

For one proposal for reform outside the traditional antitrust framework, see Tom Wheeler, Phil Verveer, and Gene Kimmelman, New Digital Realities; New Oversight Solutions in the U.S., Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center Discussion Paper (2020), https://shorensteincenter.org/new-digital-realities-tom-wheeler-phil-verveer-gene-kimmelman/.

Finally, for a perspective on one potential implication of more aggressive competition policy, see Shin-Shin Hua & Haydn Belfield, AI & Antitrust: Reconciling Tensions Between Competition Law and Cooperative AI Development, 23 Yale J.L. & Tech. 415 (2021), https://yjolt.org/ai-antitrust-reconciling-tensions-between-competition-law-and-cooperative-ai-development.

Details

Date:
April 21
Time:
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:
Website:
https://forms.gle/y9V8NFYaffme5oM76

Venue

Reginald F. Lewis Hall – Room 214