Antitrust and Big Tech with Matt Perault
Season: 5 Episode: 6
Matt Perault is the director of the Center on Technology Policy at UNC Chapel Hill, and previously worked at Facebook, as the head of the global policy development team. This episode he and Elizabeth get into the weeds on antitrust competition laws, monopolies and big tech. They talk about how monopolies can be both good and bad, the goals of antitrust laws, and the complication of these laws applying across different regions of the world. They also discuss some of the antitrust lawsuits in big tech right now, and the various stakeholders involved.
Off the top, Elizabeth mentions this crash course video about monopolies and anti-competitive markets.
Matt uses a few terms related to the antitrust context:
interoperability - the ability for users to use different devices or systems interchangeability, for example using the same cable to charge different types of cell phones
nondiscrimination principle - an antitrust principle that obliges companies to be neutral vis-à-vis other competitors and service providers in their industry
A hypothetical example of this type of discrimination would be if, back when the internet service provide Verizon owned the search engine Yahoo! (between 2017 and 2021), Verizon were to speed up Yahoo! search results for its customers so that these results loaded faster than search results on a competing search engine, like Google.
consumer welfare standard - a guideline that prohibits actions by companies that negatively impact consumers
Matt brings up a number of antitrust cases throughout the episode:
There are also a few big pieces of antitrust legislation that come up:
Digital Markets Act (Europe)
Digital Services Act (Europe)
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — Europe
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) — California
Competition Act — Canada
Episode Transcript: Antitrust and Big Tech with Matt Perault
Read the transcript below or download a copy in the language of your choice:
Elizabeth: [00:00:04] Welcome to Wonks and War Rooms, where political communication theory meets on-the-ground strategy. I'm your host Elizabeth Dubois. I'm an associate professor at the University of Ottawa and fellow at the Berkman Klein Center. My pronouns are she/her. Today we're talking about antitrust and competition law with Matt. Matt, can you introduce yourself, please?
Matt: [00:00:22] Yeah. I'm Matt Perault. I'm the director of the Center on Technology Policy at UNC Chapel Hill and also a consultant on tech policy issues.
Elizabeth: [00:00:29] Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. I am really excited to chat today. We're going to talk about antitrust competition law and big tech. And for some people who have been thinking about the role of tech and society, competition policy seems like an obvious conversation to have, but it's not something that everybody has been thinking about. And in particular, I find that when I'm chatting with other people who are political communication scholars, we aren't necessarily used to talking about the idea of antitrust and competition because those are pretty legal and/or economic concepts.
Matt: [00:01:07] Mhm.
Elizabeth: [00:01:07] So I wanted to kind of have a chat today about what those concepts really mean
Matt: [00:01:12] Mhm.
Elizabeth: [00:01:12] From my perspective. And I will offer very candidly, I watched a Crash Course video about monopolies and competition law. It was super useful. We're going to link to it in the show notes because it was actually like a very well done video. But the basic idea here is that we're creating these laws. There's this regulatory system to prevent monopolies from happening. Monopolies happen when one company is the only provider of a given service or good. And then there's also monopolistic practices which happen when, maybe they're not the only one who can provide that service or good. But there's very few others who have a large market share, and that means that there isn't competition forcing a company to be more efficient, give lower prices, create some products that are better for the consumers, right? They kind of, since they're the only ones who can do it, then people just take what they can get. And the idea with antitrust and competition laws is that we want to prevent those monopolistic practices so that the consumers, kind of like, in the best possible position or their welfare is being considered. Is that a good summary? Are there things you would add?
Matt: [00:02:27] Yeah, yeah. I think it's a great summary. But I would quibble with one part of it. So I think the fun and interesting and hard part of antitrust, at least for me and I should say, like I'm still a total novice in the field. I was a novice coming into it for the first time when I was on the public policy team at Facebook and started covering competition. The dynamic, I think that makes it interesting and also challenging is that there's a bunch that's intuitive and then a bunch that's not. And so intuitively, I think we all kind of understand the idea that like, well, we might have some things to be worried about when companies get really large and powerful. But it actually turns out and this is the, I think not that intuitive part, that monopolies are not illegal. So in your opening, you're sort of like we want to prevent monopolies. And I actually think that's not the goal of antitrust law. The goal of antitrust law is to have companies that act in the welfare of the people who use them. And so in American law, which is a little bit different than law globally, but I think basically, like most countries are aligned on this concept, it's not illegal to be a monopoly. It's illegal to behave as a monopoly in a way that harms people. But I think it actually does make sense when you think about it.
Matt: [00:03:43] And the thing about that that makes sense is that big companies can do really good things for consumers. They can build really great products. They can bring prices down, they can be incredibly innovative and, you know, create access to new products and new services. And if they're doing that in a way that's really beneficial to consumers, that's not a problem. The problem is when a company becomes so dominant that it behaves in a way that harms people. And we can talk more about this, but you know, the knock on US antitrust law, I think a shorthand for it is, all it cares about is prices. So the only thing it takes into account is if prices are going up and that's actually not the case. So, US antitrust law—takes—certainly has a focus on prices, but it also focuses on things like quality and innovation. And so it would be a violation of American antitrust law if a dominant firm released a product—that was—released products of declining quality. So if it felt so complacent, its market position was so solid, it didn't feel like it had to improve product quality, it could actually make products worse and worse and worse. That would be a problem that the antitrust laws would recognize as a problem.
Elizabeth: [00:04:52] Okay. And you say like a problem that these laws would recognize as a problem. What does that look like? Who recognizes something as a problem?
Matt: [00:05:00] So it's a really good question and it's a complicated one. So at the federal level, there's the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, the antitrust. So the Federal Trade Commission has a bureau of competition. The Justice Department has an antitrust division. Those are sort of the lead federal enforcers. One interesting thing about the process, and that's—this is different from regulators in other jurisdictions, is they don't, in most situations, have the last word. So they can bring a case in court, but they have to then win the case in court. So an example of that dynamic recently is the FTC filed suit Within Unlimited, which is a virtual reality company, and it didn't succeed in blocking that acquisition. It wasn't able to just say, hey, we decide as a regulator that we want to block this because we believe it's anti-competitive. That was not the last word. It brought that case to court and then and then lost in court. And now Meta has closed that acquisition. That's the federal side. In addition to the federal side, every state actually has antitrust, its own antitrust laws, and the attorney general in each state can enforce its own antitrust laws. So there are now a whole bunch of pending cases against against Meta, against Google. And sometimes there are simultaneous cases going on at the state and federal level. So the Texas attorney general led a lawsuit against Google on its ad tech practices. So how it integrates various different advertising technologies. And then a few months ago, the Justice Department filed suit on the same issue, alleging that Google's ad tech practices were anti-competitive.
Elizabeth: [00:06:29] Yeah. And then when we think about these tech companies, they're usually working on an international scale. They certainly have the US, as like, one of the biggest if not the biggest market for them. But there's a bunch of other countries that might have their own national or then provincial state-level regulations. And so what does that look like from the tech companies perspective? Like how do they come up with like, this is what our business is when they've got all those different layers of antitrust coming in.
Matt: [00:07:01] Yeah. So. So I started working on tech policy issues in 2011. And then at that moment, this, what you're describing was a fear that the tech industry had. You know, it wasn't just companies, it was academics. It was the US government, it was human rights organizations. A whole bunch of different parts of this ecosystem were concerned that the global Internet that we had would not always be the case, that it would be fractured based on country boundaries. And generally the idea was that that would result in a lowering of the value proposition and don't mean really economic value, although I guess that's part of it, but really mean kind of the human rights potential of the Internet, like, value from an expressive standpoint, harms to people in terms of like, privacy violations or government surveillance. The thought was, sort of, at its birth, this was as good as it could be in terms of an interoperable global system where information could flow freely across borders and that over time, people thought that that would likely degrade and there would be more kind of national-specific rules. That has certainly happened, although I guess I think it's fair to say not at the rate that I think some people in 2011 anticipated that it would.
Matt: [00:08:15] And it presents real challenges for companies like if you know, there are cases where, you know, Germany would require Google to do something and the US would prevent the company from doing that exact same thing. And so those conflicts of law situations were really problematic. I think it does present real challenges and like trying to figure out how to, you know, ensure that you're doing, that you can, that you're releasing a product that can work globally is something that companies spend a lot of resources on. I think the biggest thing in antitrust now in the tech sphere is the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act. In Europe, the Digital Services Act deals with content moderation. Digital Markets Act deals with competitive related issues, and the Digital Markets Act is essentially going to be the law of the world for tech companies from an antitrust perspective, in terms of obligating them to do a variety of things that are the kinds of remedies that have been contemplated in the US but yet haven't yet been implemented in law.
Elizabeth: [00:09:09] Yeah. Yeah. I'm really glad you brought those up. And. And let's take a moment to talk about this. Like it's going to be the law of the land. Like across the board. It's an EU thing. What makes it so that that's going to be what plays out globally.
Matt: [00:09:27] I think it's just, it is very unclear what it will mean in practice. But the provisions are fairly significant. So it implements a nondiscrimination principle. And we just had a whole debate in the US in the Senate about whether the US Congress should implement a similar rule and that bill never was passed. There was debate about it in the US. It went through the political process. It couldn't make it out of the political process as a new law. But it's going to be law in Europe. And so the question is, will there be a different version of Google and Facebook and Microsoft products and Apple products in Europe that respects the nondiscrimination rule? Or is that going to be so complicated to achieve from an engineering perspective that essentially we're going to get European nondiscrimination globally? And we it's not like this is a thing that is impossible to imagine. Like we have this with a whole bunch of different things right now, like CCPA, the privacy law in California. I think most companies, for the reasons we were talking about earlier, like you can't really have one privacy law in California and a totally different privacy law in Texas just in terms of how a company would offer its service. So now CCPA is kind of privacy law sort of, you know, federally, even though a North Carolina resident like me, I don't have rights vis a vis a tech company the way a California resident would. But the service that I'm getting offered has a lot of elements from CCPA.
Elizabeth: [00:10:53] It makes me think of when GDPR was announced and it's like, okay, well now data protection is all going to be done through the lens of GDPR because it's such a massive effort that the tech companies have to go through to adhere. And so it's kind of what gets rolled out in most jurisdictions.
Matt: [00:11:11] Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think [...] my sense is like the rest of the world gets like a GDPR light, like you don't get everything from GDPR, but you don't get zero of GDPR. The cookie consent is another example. The number of times you go to a website and you have to click "okay" or "decline" to a cookie consent pop up. That is because of European law. So I think there are a lot of reasons to be concerned about various different elements of DMA. One thing that I'm optimistic about, even despite my concerns, is that I think it's good to have some real world tests of some of these things. Like there are a lot of arguments about, you know, is such and such idea going to work in practice or is it going to hurt innovation and make things more problematic? I think with DMA we get an opportunity to test that. And my hope would be that we are serious about it as a test, that we really try to gather data and understand whether it's worked or not. Like I actually wish we would have done more of that with GDPR because, you know, there are a lot of people, when GDPR was implemented that who kind of thought, and I would have been in this camp, that thought it would implement a lot of barriers to— actually on the topic of antitrust, that it would implement barriers to competition that would be problematic for smaller companies and that a lot of those costs—I thought those costs might outweigh at least some of the rights that it afforded to individuals.
Matt: [00:12:29] So everyone likes the idea that they're being more protected. The idea of not being protected by law at all. I think people feel like that feels problematic. But the question then is like, well, is this particular implementation actually giving you sort of more rights relative to the costs that it imposes? And there have been studies at least about the cost side that I think are worth paying attention to about how after GDPR or venture capital funding declined in Europe, which I think is another way to say that it's more difficult to get new businesses off the ground to compete with larger tech platforms. And it actually entrenched, I think, some larger tech platforms to some extent because it was harder for competitors to compete. That doesn't mean GDPR is bad, but it just means, I think that's the kind of data point that's helpful in terms of understanding the impact of privacy regulation. And we're on the verge of understanding like what [does] interoperability mean in practice? What does nondiscrimination mean in practice? What about various different advertising practices? And so I think that element is very exciting to try to really understand. Okay, like we've just been having debates about this, but now—we should actually have data about how this plays out.
Elizabeth: [00:13:35] Totally. And like basically all legislation, antitrust competition, it's a balance between different things we want, right? Like we want companies to be innovative. We want them to be motivated to create new and better and more efficient things. And then we also want to make sure that consumers aren't being unintentionally harmed or in some cases taken advantage of. Right? So, yeah, finding that balance is difficult. How do you get the data point without accidentally harming people in the process if you're experimenting with these different options?
Matt: [00:14:11] Yes, for whatever reason, I have sort of a knee jerk negative reaction to balancing tests. I mean, I think in some ways all areas of law and policy are balancing tests. But I think the way to frame antitrust is that the government is not supposed to interfere in the market when the market is delivering things that are good for people. And so that's not a balance. Like the market just gets to roll products. You know, companies get to innovate, innovate, release products, et cetera. But then when there's evidence of anti-competitive conduct that harms consumers, the companies get to do zero. Like that is prohibited conduct that should be recognized as such by the antitrust law. And so I think the question that you're getting at is, is the key one then, which is like, okay, so if government needs to be hands off in all these situations and then it needs to be hands on in these others, so how do we delineate between the two? And that's really challenging. I mean, I think that's a lot of what the underlying argument that's going on now is, is like how do we generate evidence of anti-competitive harm and how do we feel confident about it, to know that if like in this one case, I would say government interference is really problematic. And in these in this other case, government noninterference, like government just standing back is—
Elizabeth: [00:15:34] Mhm.
Matt: [00:15:34] Really problematic. So that's a big difference. That line between those two worlds should be aligned. We really, really understand and know well, so that we can move quickly from one to the other.
Elizabeth: [00:15:45] Yeah.
Matt: [00:15:46] And I think it's just very difficult. So I do think that's one reason that people have focused on price, because price is an easier metric to determine. So if you see, if you can establish that a firm is dominant, that's a whole, like that is a whole, you know, there's a lot of jurisprudence on that. That's a difficult thing to prove. But if you have established that and then you see prices going up—and that's also difficult. That's why this is a very like economic field, because you need economists to actually be able to identify that it's not just inflation, you know, that prices are going up because of a firm's dominance. But once you do that, then that product, that conduct should be prohibited. But in areas like quality, for instance, like could you establish that because a firm is so dominant, the privacy protections it provides are worse and worse over time? Well, how do we determine that objectively? Like we can say that such and such company had a data breach or such and such company was engaged in some practice that didn't think they were doing because their terms suggested they weren't doing it. But is that really an erosion of privacy offerings and is that a result of— you have to tie it to the dominance—if the whole industry is moving in one direction in terms of privacy protections and then one company that has a strong market position is also moving in that direction. The dominance is not the thing that's causing them to roll out certain privacy protections. It's that the whole industry is moving in that direction. So that is really difficult to figure out and I don't have a clear, specific answer to it. I mean, that's why you see, when you see antitrust trials, they tend to be battles between economic experts because that's really how these cases get, how these issues get resolved. And I think like - I don't know - I think embedded in your question maybe is like a plea for "it would be great if we had like clearer metrics to,
Elizabeth: [00:17:36] Yeah.
Matt: [00:17:37] You know, to know where we go from world A to world B" and I agree. I mean, I think that's for us on the academic side to figure that out. Right?
Elizabeth: [00:17:44] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I don't know. My inkling is that there's probably a variety of different folks who need to be involved in figuring out what those are. Hopefully academics like us have some—some role to play. You mentioned the price. You mentioned quality. If we were imagining better metrics, what are the other kinds of things you think we should be talking about?
Matt: [00:18:07] Well. So one—that again is recognized in US antitrust laws—is innovation. And I also think that's really hard. Like how could you prove that because a company was so dominant, it was innovating at a slower rate or I should say an anti-competitive rate. Like large companies, I think, often tend to slow down. Just slowing down in terms of the pace of innovation is not evidence of anti-competitive conduct, but how can you show evidence that a company has innovated at a slower rate because of its dominance? So I think, you know, I guess one thing is like, does the law recognize these various different variables? And it does. So the accusation that US antitrust law just cares about price, you know, is actually sort of factually incorrect as a matter of legal doctrine. But there's a second question then, which is like, okay, so it recognizes all these things. So what does it mean? And that's less clear.
Matt: [00:19:00] Like when I was learning this as I was moving into this practice area, I heard lots of people sort of say the first part of what I just said, like antitrust isn't just about price. It's also about quality of innovation. And almost every time I heard that, there was never anything that followed. And I—it felt to me like an important area of exploration was like, look, let's just, let's try to be serious about what quality means as a measurement of competition harm or as a criteria for competition. Harm and like what does that actually mean? What are the components of it? How do we know it? How—
Elizabeth: [00:19:35] Mm.
Matt: [00:19:35] How can we know when it's occurring? And that has seemed to me to be somewhat underdeveloped.
Elizabeth: [00:19:40] Yeah, yeah, I would agree. It seems like there's opportunity and kind of need for more nuance and like thoughtful detail, which as a social scientist, that's, that's my jam. That's what I do. But when we get to, you know, what can we apply in a consistent way so that it is reasonable to have laws around and the implementation side of thing, It's difficult. And you know, economists are not known for incorporating all kinds of social scientific aspects into their theories and approaches. So, I mean, this kind of fits with one of the larger sets of concerns that some folks have with the idea of antitrust and and competition law. So, you know, we're based in this idea of what's good for the consumer, which people talk about as the consumer welfare standard. And one of the kind of responses is like, well, we're not thinking about sociopolitical objectives like fairness or income inequality or protection of small businesses, although I will say in the Canadian Competition Act example, small businesses and medium sized businesses are explicitly addressed. But the basic idea here is when we look at these antitrust laws, they often aren't dealing with some of these things that are more social in nature, which maybe makes them too hard to track and make metrics of in the first place. Like, is it just that the things we're trying to we're talking about here are just like too hard to get into that more rigid system that we need for the legal side?
Matt: [00:21:17] Well, so guess I guess the question I would ask is like, let's just sort of take as a given that all the things that you mentioned are important. Why is antitrust the right body of law to deal with them? Right. Or the right area of policy, Like it's the idea—is not that—like you can't take steps to try to, like, make society fairer. But why do you—why would you try to do that through antitrust? The small business one, for instance, why would the government intervene in a situation where consumers are getting a better out—or getting a better deal from a sizable firm like—but let's even say a dominant firm. So consumers are getting better products at better prices. Why would an antitrust enforcement agency intervene to try to take those options out of the market so that consumers have to pay more for worse products from smaller entities? So the government might say, well, we have a preference for small firms, but you have to then go to consumers and say, and as a result of that preference, now we want you to pay more for worse products. And I think most people would say that's not something we want. So I think that's the one where, like you might do any number of different things to support small businesses like through tax policy, through small business lending, through various different types of incentive structures and stuff.
Matt: [00:22:37] The goal should be to enable small businesses to offer better products at cheaper prices than larger firms so that consumers are benefited. That feels like an outcome that, you know, is good for consumers. And the government has policy tools that [it] can use to achieve that outcome. Standing in the way of a firm offering a better product at a cheaper price simply because you dislike the firm or you dislike its size doesn't seem to me to be desirable policy.
Matt: [00:23:04] But I think, you know, the main one of the main things is US law really has this mantra of the focus is on harm to competition, not harm to competitors. And I think other other countries, other jurisdictions like Europe and stuff, you know, put more weight on harm to competitors. But to me, I don't really think the government—why does it care if Yelp and Google have a dispute? Like that—Just doesn't—And why should the government care if Yelp is going out of business or if Google were going out of business. That doesn't seem like an issue that the government should care about. The government should care about one of those companies being engaged in anti-competitive conduct that's harmful to people, not harmful to Yelp as a business.
Matt: [00:23:45] I think that creates a really interesting, a really interesting dynamic. You know, from an advocacy perspective, like companies lobbying for various different things. Because for a long time it was always mean. I think it's always been the case that people assume that competitors will raise concerns about competition. And we see that all the time, right? Like, so right now, Microsoft and Activision are trying to close a deal. And you see all these statements by Sony, which has PlayStation, saying this is going to be competitive for all these different reasons. And that's what we would expect because Sony doesn't want Microsoft or Activision to be stronger companies because that presents a market threat to them. So we would expect that. The difference now is that competitor concerns even in the US are getting more weight. So now I think the fact that the company is saying, hey, this is—presents competitive challenges for us, that is given weight. And that probably, you know, to some extent, that's a new development globally. But it also might be the US moving to be closer to models in places like Canada and Europe.
Elizabeth: [00:24:51] I wonder if we could take a few minutes to talk about some specific examples. What are the kinds of antitrust tactics or cases or examples that we have from big tech? You've mentioned a few already, but are there others that you think are particularly interesting to bring up or relevant?
Matt: [00:25:12] Well. So there's an FTC suit filed against Facebook, now Meta. There's a Google case that also is moving to discovery. The trial is gonna be in 2024. Then there are the two ad tech cases, the state and federal ones. I think that those are the major ones. Microsoft, Activision will be resolved probably, I think probably by the end of April when the UK and EU regulators reach a decision in that case. So I think those are the big ones. And then there are other sort of big rumoured ones. So, it seems likely that the FTC will file a case against Amazon at some point in the next several months. And that's been reported on in the press, but it hasn't happened yet.
Elizabeth: [00:25:58] So what are the kind of things that Amazon has done that make us think that a case is coming?
Matt: [00:26:06] Well, I guess so—I think there's like an embedded assumption there that the conduct merits a case, and I'm not sure it does. The kinds of things that have been talked about as potentially raising antitrust and anti-competitive concerns at Amazon are things like how it prioritizes its own products relative to its sellers products, whether it uses seller data to inform the development of its own products, how it chooses, what's in the buy box on Amazon, whether the prices it charges or offers, consumers are competitive or not. So those are all things that I think have been part of the discussion. There are also some of the issues that you've raised around like, sort of broader social issues, have also, people have also raised them with respect to Amazon, like labor conditions, and that sort of thing.
Elizabeth: [00:26:55] One question I have for you is about who's involved when we're talking about antitrust and competition laws. You know, obviously, there are the big tech companies that we're talking about right now, the platforms, Amazon, Google, Facebook, well, Meta, et cetera. And then there's the regulators who decide whether or not to pursue cases. What other kinds of actors are involved? Are there other actors involved?
Matt: [00:27:23] Yeah, it's a really good question. Um, I mean, there are tons. A couple of the key ones are, are competing companies. I was going to say smaller competitors, but it's actually not really necessarily the case that they're smaller, like the dispute between Apple and Epic games. Apple often will, sort of, try to emphasize that Epic is a multi-billion dollar company. It's not a small company. So there, I think, are firms in any case who are concerned that the practice that is being looked at will end up harming them. So, you know, there are a range of different views, but I think the ones that tend to get the most attention are the large competing companies who complain about the conduct of the allegedly dominant firm.
Matt: [00:28:05] Certainly journalists, I think journalists end up being a really important constituency. I mean, they you know, the way that people have written about these issues, I think has helped to influence them; members of Congress. So the House Judiciary Committee did a big investigation of big tech companies that had a series of hearings. In fact, one in which I testified when I was at Facebook and then and wrote a big report about these issues. There are a range of advocacy organizations and nonprofits and think tanks and stuff who sort of provide the quote, unquote, "thought leadership" in the space. And they have a range of different views, some more sympathetic to industry perspectives, some very critical of industry perspectives. Obviously academics, too. And then there are academics who sort of go back and forth between the government and academia. And so I think those are the major ones. You said regulators. I certainly wouldn't just make clear, like not just regulators in a particular jurisdiction, but global regulators.
Elizabeth: [00:29:01] Mhm.
Matt: [00:29:01] So most of the big tech companies are responsive to concerns and a whole bunch of different jurisdictions. So it really is a global regulatory environment.
Elizabeth: [00:29:12] Yeah, that's super helpful.
Matt: [00:29:14] Did I leave out any important constituencies?
Elizabeth: [00:29:16] I can't remember actually if we've mentioned the courts or not.
Matt: [00:29:20] Yeah, the courts are really important again. I mean, I think particularly in the US side because the courts end up really being the decision makers where as in some other countries, regulators are closer to a final decision maker. I mean, the other one, which people I think often leave out of any discussion of stakeholders but is important is our users themselves. And probably in my view, like the most important stakeholder, and it's also the hardest to represent and lots of different people try to represent them and I think probably often inaccurately. So like companies talk about, well, if we do this, it's going to make the user experience worse off and maybe it will. I tend to think lots of those arguments are strong arguments, but like we don't really know and users aren't speaking on their own about that. And then there are lots of advocacy organizations that say X, Y, Z conduct by X, by certain companies, is making users worse off. And in those cases, we don't really have, I think, often like the data to support it or the user’s voices. Maybe we have individual user voices, but we can't really, it's hard to say systematically, are users really frustrated? And maybe sometimes they are or sometimes they're not. But it's—there are lots of different groups that are fighting to represent the user’s voice, and I think it's often unclear what the user’s voice actually is.
Elizabeth: [00:30:30] Yeah, I think that is a very fair assessment. And we see that kind of across the board when we're talking about tech regulation, because although we're talking about antitrust today, there's a whole bunch of other ways that tech platforms and regulation kind of come together and figuring out who the user is, what they think, what they care about is difficult in and of itself. But then like the PR machines that get wrapped around them from other actors trying to kind of, like, harness the needs of the user as a tool within their argument is pretty common.
Matt: [00:31:10] Mhm. Yeah.
Elizabeth: [00:31:10] Wonderful. This has been a really great conversation. We are coming up on time, however. So I just want to end off with one final question. We're going to imagine you're taking a midterm exam and you have the question, what is antitrust? What's your short answer? You're like two sentences.
Matt: [00:31:33] The body of law that ensures that markets function to benefit consumers.
Elizabeth: [00:31:37] Awesome. Thank you so much. That's super helpful.
Elizabeth: [00:31:44] All right. That was our episode, looking at antitrust and competition law. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, you can find links to a bunch of other resources in the show notes or head over to polcommtech.ca for our annotated transcripts, which include a whole bunch more resources. Thanks so much and have a great day.