The R Street Institute is concerned with the Justice Department’s antitrust litigation against Google. While the DOJ must ensure that online markets remain competitive, it must also avoid reverting to a “big is bad” mindset for competition policy or discounting procompetitive justifications for conduct. If it does, consumers will be the ones who suffer.
“Google faces competitive constraints from a wide variety of search engines and products, and ultimately antitrust analysis focuses on competition, not individual competitors,” explains Resident Fellow Jeffrey Westling. “To successfully bring this case, the DOJ must prove two difficult elements: First, that general search is a distinct market without competing products like Yelp!, Amazon or Expedia, or even general search rivals such as Bing, DuckDuckGo or Yahoo!, providing meaningful constraints on behavior. Second, that Google’s actions are anticompetitive and the harms from that conduct outweigh significant procompetitive benefits such as more accurate results and easy access to search features. If both elements exist in a given case, then regulators can and should act. However, if we aren’t careful, overbearing antitrust enforcement could stifle further innovation, leaving consumers worse off.”