“TECHNOPOLY” and what to do about it

In “TECHNOPOLY” and what to do about it: Reform, Redress and Regulation, ResPublica, with the support of the Big Innovation Centre, outline proposals for a radical overhaul of current regulation of the technology sector, which we argue is unfit for purpose, incentivises bad behaviour and has failed to address ethical questions around Big Data and its use. The detailed and technical report, warns higher consumer prices are a problem in the sector as well as dominance by internet giants of advertising revenue, data and even the provision of news. This report highlights higher levels of concentration across a range of industries, a rise in economic rent, a fall in new market entry and a corresponding and evidenced threat to innovation. We argue that these outcomes have arisen in part at least because of a conceptual failure of competition law and policy to grasp the problem, lack of appreciation of the importance to the fabric of society of a diverse and competitive market, insufficiency of the tools used for analysis, especially the narrow focus on the consumer welfare standard as currently understood, and an ineffective system of merger control and lack of enforcement of the laws on vertical restraints.

Key Arguments:

• Current competition law is not fit for purpose, regulators follow pro-monopoly standards

• Consumer choice and innovation should be the new norm, not just consumer welfare

• Competition law needs to stop privileging big business and focus on the benefits of small businesses and market structure

• Regulators should strip the wrongdoer of their profits for their wrongdoing

• Social media is media, and should be regulated in the same way as traditional media

• Current merger controls should be changed to meet challenges of the digital age

• Current UK inaction on merger controls is unsustainable

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