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As complex technological systems have become increasingly intertwined with modern commerce, the Big Tech corporations that produce those systems have achieved a novel position in the marketplace. Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook, in particular, have diversified across a wide variety of business lines while also positioning themselves to provide foundational ecommerce infrastructure that rival businesses depend on. Despite their centrality in the market, the Big Tech firms have largely avoided antitrust scrutiny, even as they acquire smaller companies that provide a range of products and services. These organizations often argue that such practices are perfectly within the bounds of current law. Historically, antirust enforcement has been triggered when there are quantifiable threats to the welfare of average consumers. As these companies generally prioritize internal reinvestment, growth, and diversification over short term profits, they contend that consumers are in fact benefiting from their business practices (via wider selections and lower prices). However, some legal academics now advocate for updated antitrust enforcement measures that reflect the new risks posed by firms operating these kinds of centralized digital infrastructure products. Their scholarship explores a range of anticompetitive behaviors unique to digital markets, such as the dynamics of so-called "multi-sided markets," price collusion by algorithms without explicit human direction, strategic barriers to technological interoperability, and the mass aggregation of intellectual property through start-up acquisition.
algorithmic collusion, algorithmic pricing, anticompetitive behavior, antitrust, antitrust populism, consumer welfare standard, competition law, coordinated effects, digital market power, effective competition, multi-sided markets, multi-sided platform markets, nascent competitors, New Brandeis Movement, patent aggregation, platform economy, platform power, platform market power, price discrimination, search neutrality, two-sided markets, three-sided markets