Antitrust posturing →

Benedict Evans ·

Benedict Evans in his summary on the five proposed tech antitrust bills currently in Congress:

…There’s no question that there are business practices all over large tech companies that are bad for competition and should be regulated. This is all coming. However, there are also business practices that are bad for individual competitors but good for the consumer and often indeed good for broader competition. And more fundamentally, there are many decisions that are deeply bound up in trade-offs between the product, privacy, competition, ease of use, profitability, innovation, portability and many other things. If you want to solve the problems, you need to understand why they exist and accept that there will be complexity.

When people in tech say ‘you don’t understand - it’s complicated’, a common and easy reaction is to think that this is special pleading - a claim that somehow the law should not apply to tech. But in fact, it’s the exact opposite - this is a plea that tech policy has the same complexity and trade-offs as any other field of policy. We would all understand that you cannot solve car safety or traffic congestion with a five page bill, and that breaking up GM would solve about two of the fifty reasons we worry about cars. We understand that education policy, energy policy or healthcare policy are complicated and full of trade-offs, and that the only people who think it’s simple and easy have their fingers in their ears. Unfortunately, those people wrote some of these bills.