31 Jan 2023
In this week's recap, the US filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google display advertising, Europe proposed two DMA workshops on messaging services and app stores, and I launched a participatory forum.
Antitrust lawsuit against Google display advertising
The US is tackling Google’s business practices again. This time, the Department of Justice and several States argue that Google unduly monopolized the display adverting market through anti-competitive behaviors and acquisitions. They seek damages and remedies, including the potential divestiture of past accepted acquisitions by competition authorities. Google denied any wrongdoing and argued that display advertising is vigorously competitive. The case, and the sector in general, is so complex that several competition authorities worldwide spent significant time investigating the industry through market studies and antitrust cases (e.g., the EU Ad sense case). Without going into the details of the lawsuit, one might wonder if requesting the divestiture of past accepted acquisitions is an acceptable policy choice. First, it would send a signal to future acquirers that they cannot trust the merger control system aiming to approve a wedding before it takes place. Second, it would diminish the incentive to invest in the union once accepted, as any signs of success might be interpreted as harming competition.
The European competition division is going ahead with two DMA workshops. After the first one on self-preferencing in December 2022, the next ones will explore the requirements for interoperability between messaging services on February 27 and app stores on March 6, including sideloading and alternative payment systems. I will not be surprised if the Commission invites Apple, Spotify, and Match. But I will be surprised if they agree on everything. In my view, the workshops are an excellent forum to bring various stakeholders around the table, even though they might end up being a pure public relations exercise rather than a constructive exchange to find effective and proportionate compliance solutions.
News on the website
Speaking about dialogue, I launched a participatory forum. It aims to bring stakeholders (except lobbyists), scholars, practitioners, and competition authorities around the table to define effective and proportionate solutions that are coherent globally and do not prevent future innovation. I propose four roundtables on data, research (e.g., AI chatbots on search engines, web 2 and web 3, metaverse, AI and cloud), policy, and monitoring. Your participation is welcome! Let's make it work. Please send me a message to participate!