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Antitrust in the Digital Era – Platforms

November 5, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Dr. Alexandra von Westernhagen


Access via Zoom: https://mit.zoom.us/j/3980544883

There is no denial that antitrust policy is at a crossroads. The emergence of online platforms as quasi-monopolies with wide reach into vertically integrated markets, the strategic importance of data to gain competitive advantages as well  as mergers and acquisitions in the digital field have led to a re-think about the application of antirust rules in the US, Europe and other jurisdictions around the world. More recently issues related to the content of information under Rule 230 of the Communications Decency Act have been the focus of hearings in the US.

Behind this background and ongoing antitrust/competition probes on both sides of the pond into big tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google it is, therefore, essential for any policy professional, economist, and law practitioner to know about current and future developments in this field.

Problems related to the following concerns (some having been raised by the HR hearings) are also being debated:

  • Anti-competitive behavior (maintaining market power through gatekeeper behavior; and imposing oppressive contract terms) [all]
  • Excess profiteering (including predatory pricing) [all]
  • Political distortions of info and facts (failure to live up to the spirit of Rule 230 the Communications Decency Act) [all, but especially Facebook; Google]
  • Data mining and abuse, (including the use of artificial intelligence) [al­­]
  • Self-preferencing [Google; Amazon; Facebook]
  • Failure to allow lockout during driving [Apple]
  • Ignoring the health impacts of 5G [Apple; Google]

In her presentation, Dr Alexandra von Westernhagen, will walk you step by step through the most important issues in the area of platforms and suggested solutions. The presentation will cover the following:

  • A short introduction into the legal framework for abuses of dominance
  • Why are digital markets different?
  • Key characteristics of the digital economy
  • Goals and methodologies of antirust and competition watchdogs
  • Suggested solutions for platforms
  • Recent and ongoing cases in the US and the European Union


Dr Alexandra von Westernhagen is an English/German qualified lawyer with 20+ years’ experience in competition law, gained in international private practice (London, Brussels, New York) as well as academia (Berlin, Paris, Brussels).  She currently shares her time between London, where she heads up the EU/Competition team of international law firm DAC Beachcroft LLP (https://www.dacbeachcroft.com/); as well as Brussels and Berlin, where she is a Professor for Intl. Business Law (https://en.ism.de/).

MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Cambridge, MA 02139-4307