Amazon is playing with fire, but shouldn’t get burned by regulators

The Titans of Silicon Valley have long battled for control of the television, that stubborn holdout in the living room that has long resisted being dragged into the Internet age. This battle heated up last week when Amazon banned the sale of Apple TV or Google’s Chromecast units on its site. The announcement triggered a deluge of criticism, including calls by some to investigate whether the decision violates antitrust laws. But these calls are misguided. Amazon’s new strategy likely falls in the “unwise but not illegal” category. Consumers can – and likely will – make their displeasure known through market behavior, without the need for a regulator to help Amazon get the message.

The ongoing development of the sharing economy: Lessons from an elephant

Discussions of the sharing economy can feel at times like that parable of the blind men and the elephant. Vocal stakeholders in this issue – from politicians, to consumer and labor advocates, to industry representatives, to the participants themselves – have fervent and deep-seated beliefs as to what the sharing economy is and how it should, or shouldn’t, be regulated. Their accounts differ greatly, and yet most are confident their version of the story is correct. In truth, they’re all a little bit right – and also a little wrong. At the moment, it would benefit each of these stakeholders to keep an open mind.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager addresses a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels April 15, 2015. REUTERS

What to do about an antitrust “problem” like Google?

When you dominate a marketplace, you can expect a fair amount of scrutiny. After all, popular wisdom says that mere size makes anticompetitive conduct more feasible. But size (access to human and financial capital, distribution processes, and an established customer base) makes new innovation and procompetitive behavior possible too. For the company that famously quipped that its corporate slogan was “don’t be evil,” its antitrust future may boil down to a simple question – is Google more evil than good? And perhaps the future of the Internet depends on whether antitrust authorities can tell the difference.
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The “Microsoft Ireland” case: Can the DOJ force Microsoft to hand over data stored abroad?

Can US law enforcement officials compel American companies to hand over consumer data stored abroad? This question is at the heart of a major case currently before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. It is also the subject of an event AEI will host next Tuesday, October 6, at our headquarters in DC.