Big Tech Still Thrives Despite European Regulation


Europe's anti-trust regulations have imposed fines but have done little to systemically change big tech's behavior.

Despite Europe’s tough oversight on big tech, major tech companies have come out unharmed.

Many see Europe’s antitrust regulators as the most stringent and the most effective. However, despite Europe’s strict regulation of big tech, a growing number of fines against big tech companies have not infringed upon their dominance in different sectors.

Antitrust investigations in Europe typically takes years to complete. During that timespan, the companies being investigated can continue to implement their anti-competitive practices and achieve dominance in their sector of interest.

Additionally, these investigations focus on one business operation within a tech firm, thereby ignoring the larger picture. What results are investigations ending in the imposition of fines rather than structure change. These finds do little to impede the practices of major tech firms. For example, Google’s revenue increased from $23.7 billion in 2009 to $137 billion in 2018.

“You have to move fast and impose remedies that actually bite,” said Thomas Vinje, an antitrust lawyer.

Margrethe Vestager is the head antitrust regulator in the EU. During her tenure she has worked to enforce tougher regulatory measures. For example she has pushed for the enactment of “interim measures.” This rule effectively stops the investigated firm from pursuing what is suspected to be anticompetitive behavior while the investigation takes place.

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Economics, Finance and Investing