Market concentration and monopoly power among Internet companies and Internet access impacts many of EFF’s issues, particularly innovation, consumer privacy, net neutrality, and platform censorship. Government regulators and legislators are considering proposals to address problems raised by mammoth Internet companies and broadband access providers. Some of these proposals could end up restricting competition or promoting censorship while cementing the market hold of the established giants. Other policy ideas hold the promise to open up new markets and expand opportunities for new businesses to emerge.
One legal doctrine, antitrust law, deals directly with the problems of monopoly power. Antitrust needs to evolve for today’s Internet marketplace. EFF has supported that effort by arguing before federal regulators in favor of a broader version of antitrust law’s consumer welfare standard that looks not only at consumer prices but also at speech, privacy, and innovation harms. A broader view is necessary as Supreme Court decisions such as Ohio v American Express on two-sided markets have made it more difficult to bring traditional antitrust claims against the Internet giants.
Other carefully designed laws and practices can also alleviate the chokehold held by dominant firms in ways antitrust law does not—for example, by opening up markets that would otherwise have remained inaccessible. In addition, laws exist today that stifle competition, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse (CFAA), which has been used by companies like Facebook to shut down alternatives, as well as Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and abusive terms of service. EFF is working to focus legislators, the courts, and regulators on applying antitrust law and competition policy to serve users.