An Open Letter to Public Officials: Proposed Antitrust Bills Would Harm Consumers and Undermine Innovation

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We, the undersigned economic, legal, and public policy experts, write to express concern over legislative and executive branch proposals aimed at dramatically expanding government antitrust and competition regulation authority over the technology sector and ultimately the entire economy. Now is a particularly important time to remind policymakers that the principles embodied in the consumer welfare standard and light touch regulation remain relevant, applicable, and vital to our future prosperity.  

Earlier this year, several antitrust bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate, supposedly to improve competition in the U.S technology sector. In reality these bills would punish American companies for offering integrated services, regardless of the benefits to consumers those services provide, and make a number of common business practices like selling private labels alongside name brands a violation of antitrust laws. Rather than advancing helpful competition standards based on sound economics, these proposals would require U.S. tech firms to obtain government pre-approval to promote and integrate new products. Such proposals are not based on any findings of market power or the ability to exclude rivals. Instead these are punitive measures that target a handful of tech firms that fall under a set of arbitrary criteria. 

Many of us have warned about proposals that distort existing antitrust standards and fail to focus on harm to consumers. The Senate bills would almost certainly lead to such harm. They would disrupt the processes through which tech firms design new products and operate, thereby impairing competition in such markets. They would also erode the ability of American firms to compete with rivals in China and elsewhere in a wide range of emerging technologies, ranging from existing digital products to artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and quantum computing.

Government-required break-ups, restructuring, or restrictions on business models do not usually serve the interests of the consumers whom public officials seek to protect. If companies are utilizing business practices in demonstrably anticompetitive ways to harm consumers, existing antitrust law adequately equips the government with the tools to take reasonable action. These proposals seek to shift the focus of antitrust law away from helping consumers and toward bolstering competitors, thereby hindering economic growth and undermining decades of existing antitrust precedent. Moreover, they do not offer a solution to broader concerns about technology and privacy. 

It is extremely rare to see proposals that would dramatically increase antitrust authority for only a small number of targeted companies. This could represent a very troubling turning point in competition policy that substantially shifts the focus away from the consumer welfare standard and endangers future innovation and competition. Accordingly, we urge public officials to avoid unnecessary, overzealous changes to antitrust laws that would weaken an already fragile economy and instead look for targeted reforms to improve the lives of consumers and promote pro-growth policies. 

Pete Sepp                      National Taxpayers Union

Kenneth V. Greene                    Binghamton UniversityPatrice Onwuka
Independent Women's Forum
Asheesh Agarwal            Former Assistant Director, Federal Trade CommissionStephen K. Happel                  Arizona State UniversityYael Ossowski
Consumer Choice Center
Charles W. Baird
California State University, East Bay
Jeff Haymond
Cedarville University
Sam Peltzman
University of Chicago, Booth School (Emeritus)
Ashley Baker 
Committee for Justice
Tom Hebert
Open Competition Center
Eric Peterson
Pelican Center for Technology and Innovation
Don Bellante
University of South Florida
Patrick Hedger
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Steve Pociask
American Consumer Institute
James T. Bennett
George Mason University
David R. Henderson
Hoover Institution
Aurelien Portuese      Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Bruce L. Benson
Florida State University
Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin               American Action ForumArturo C. Porzecanski        American University
Michael T. Bond
University of Arizona
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
San Jose State University
Barry W. Poulson
University of Colorado Boulder
Samuel Bostaph
University of Dallas
Mark A. Jamison
University of Florida and the American Enterprise Institute
Andrew F. Quinlan              Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Donald J. Boudreaux
George Mason University
Raymond J. Keating
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Nancy Roberts
Arizona State University
Scott Bradford
Brigham Young University
Daniel B. Klein
George Mason University
Paul Rubin
Emory University
Jason Brennan
Georgetown University
Richard N. Langlois
University of Connecticut
John Ruggiero                University of Dayton
Wayne T. Brough 
R Street Institute
Kent Lassman
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Joseph T. Salerno
Mises Institute
Peter T. Calcagno 
College of Charleston
Thomas Lehman
Indiana Wesleyan University
Timothy Sandefur
Goldwater Institute
James H. Cardon                  Brigham Young UniversityCurt Levey
Committee For Justice
Charles Sauer
Market Institute
Yong Chao
University of Louisville
Stan J. Liebowitz
University of Texas, Dallas
Dan Savickas
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Joe Cobb
Tony Lima
Professor Emeritus of Economics, California State University, East Bay
Tom Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Joab Corey
University of California, Riverside
Christopher Lingle                 Universidad Francisco MarroquinWilliam Franklin Shughart II 
Utah State University
Wayne Crews
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Carrie Lukas
Independent Women's Forum
Vernon L. Smith
Chapman University
Joseph S. DeSalvo
University of South Florida, Tampa
Abir Mandal
University of Mount Olive
Daniel J. Smith
Middle Tennessee State University
Anthony Dukes
University of Southern California
Michael L. Marlow
California Polytechnic State University
Daniel Sutter
Troy University
Gerald P. Dwyer
Clemson University
Scott E. Masten 
University of Michigan
John Tamny
James Edwards
Conservatives for Property Rights
Beverly McKittrick
Edward Tower
Duke University
Richard A. Epstein
NYU School of Law; the Hoover Institution; the University of Chicago Law School
W. Douglas McMillin                  Louisiana State University (Emeritus)Liad Wagman
Illinois Institute of Technology
John A. Flanders
Central Methodist University
Jessica Melugin
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Jeffrey Westling
American Action Forum
Vivek Ghosal
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Jim Miller                        Former Chairman, Federal Trade CommissionJosh Withrow
R Street Institute
Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation
Dan Mitchell
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Bill Z. Yang
Georgia Southern University
Casey Given
Young Voices
Michael C. Munger
Duke University
Ryan Young
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Stephan F. Gohmann                University of LouisvilleIain Murray
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Benjamin Zycher
American Enterprise Institute
 Grover Norquist                         Americans for Tax Reform 

Institutional affiliations are provided for identification purposes only.