Online intermediaries have emerged as the railroad monopolies of the 21st century, controlling access to market and increasingly determining who wins and who loses in today’s economy. Their dominance drives inequality and afflicts citizens and business-owners in all corners of American society.
The Open Markets Institute led a coalition of public interest groups and academics in demanding the Department of Justice block the proposed merger of Cengage and McGraw-Hill. If approved, the merger would create the second-largest U.S. provider of textbooks and higher-education materials after Pearson, with $3.16 billion in annual revenue.
Welcome to The Corner. In this issue, we highlight a powerful dissent in the Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with Facebook, discuss why the Trump Administration’s new hospital pricing rule won’t fix American healthcare, and identify three key takeaways from last week’s House subcommittee hearing on Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
Open Markets Director of Enforcement Strategy Sally Hubbard published an op-ed on CNN Business on the Federal Trade Commission’s $5 billion settlement with Facebook and asserts that the company needs a new business model. “Instead of fines, changing destructive business models and anticompetitive practices is the only way to lessen the platforms’ harms,” Hubbard writes. “These fixes fall into four main buckets, spelling out the acronym PAIN: privacy, antitrust, interoperability and non-discrimination.”
Enforcers and policymakers should pay particular attention to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra’s powerful dissenting statement. Chopra condemned the Facebook settlement, writing, “This framework does not protect the public — it protects Facebook” and “ratifies Facebook’s governance structure instead of changing it.”
On the heels of Open Markets publicly demanding Libra’s launch partners “walk away” from the project, OMI, Public Citizen, Demand Progress Education Fund, and Revolving Door Project sent a joint letter to all 27 partners.
Open Markets Director of Enforcement Strategy talks to Jon Ward, host of Yahoo’s Long Game Podcast on the case for regulating Facebook and Google. “The amount of data that Facebook and Google are collecting about the average person is absolutely insane, massive, widespread, ubiquitous, and I think honestly, a fraud on the American people that the people don’t understand that this is happening,” said Hubbard.