COMMUNICATING MARKETS: COMPETITION POLICY DISCOURSE AND DIGITAL PLATFORM POWER
Keywords:digital platforms, antitrust, critical policy studies, platform regulation
Digital platforms elude legal and regulatory frameworks traditionally used to address market power, speech, and disinformation issues. One of the dominant policy responses to addressing these issues involves reforming competition policy to better manage digital platform markets. This case study examines how stakeholders, including tech giants, their competitors, regulators, and advocacy groups deploy competition policy to address platform power in a series of 2019-2020 U.S. congressional hearings on the subject, with implications for the wider global debate. The article traces the politics underlying these debates, which manifests in variations in stakeholders’ definitions of platform power and their proposed solutions, reflecting tensions over the role of the state in managing markets and in addressing non-economic concerns associated with digital platforms. The article concludes with a consideration of what this politics implies for policy interventions aimed at addressing platform power.