Big Tech Guide for State Lawmakers: Provide Antitrust Enforcers With More Resources

September 13, 2022 State and Local PolicyTech

The Problem:

Most states dedicate very few resources to antitrust enforcement, a problem exacerbated by the fact that antitrust cases, due to bad case law and legal procedures, are long and expensive to undertake. Most states have fewer than three antitrust investigators on staff; 13 states have none. Just six states – California, New York, Florida, Texas, Washington, and Ohio – employ nearly half of all state-level antitrust lawyers.

Still, states have advanced serious efforts to use existing antitrust law to rein in the power of Big Tech, such as Texas’ case, joined by 10 other states, against Google’s monopoly in advertising technology, Washington, D.C.’s case against Amazon’s treatment of third-party sellers, Ohio’s pursuit of common carrier designation for Google, or 47 states’ joint effort against Facebook’s monopolization of social media.

The Policy:

State lawmakers can dedicate more funding to antitrust offices, perhaps funded by a tax on large corporations. They can also push Congress to heed the call of 45 state attorneys general to provide federal funding for state antitrust efforts.

The Pushback:

Increased antitrust funding will run up against states’ traditional budget priorities. And critics will point to the length and difficulty of antitrust cases as a reason not to pursue more of them, which is why increased funding should be paired with other reforms to antitrust law to reflect the realities of today’s dominant corporations, particularly in tech.