INTEROPERABILITY AS A COMPETITION REMEDY FOR DIGITAL NETWORKS
41 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 19, 2021
In this article we argue addressing entry barriers created by network effects is critical to remedying a monopolization violation in a social network market (e.g. Facebook). For a social network, interoperability is likely a necessary, but not necessarily a sufficient, condition for an effective remedy. Mandatory interoperability based on robust and effective rules could overcome the network effects that protect the incumbent from entry, maximizing the potential for new entrants to enter at minimal cost, compete in the market, and take share from the incumbent. This remedy could be ordered in addition to other relief such as a divestiture, and indeed could be complementary to it, or stand on its own. In today’s internet-based network markets, interoperability carries no incremental costs such as dedicated wires and machines that were true of the telecom interoperability of past decades. Its main cost is the establishment of an open standard to exchange commonly used functionalities (e.g. text, images) of social networks. If this remedy were ordered by a court after a finding of antitrust liability, the standard should be overseen by an agency to ensure it serves to protect competition, lower entry barriers, and erode market power. Entrants who wish to interoperate with the incumbent could demonstrate adherence to privacy and security standards and receive royalty-free licenses.
Keywords: interoperability, monopolization, digital platforms, social networks
JEL Classification: L41, L51
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation