A bipartisan coalition of Attorney Generals have slammed Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) with three separate antitrust suits in just three months, and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is also under antitrust scrutiny. Regulators have changed their approach to antitrust laws, and these changes have big implications for big business. But before we can understand these implications, we need to know what antitrust laws are and how these laws how regulators have enforced these laws in the past.
What is antitrust law?
The concept of antitrust law is simple. Antitrust laws are in place to keep one company or group of companies from becoming too powerful. These laws protect consumers from unfair price gouging, and they level the playing field for smaller businesses.
Two approaches to antitrust law
There are two perspectives concerning antitrust law. The "market first" approach argues that companies achieve dominance based on economic efficiency and consumer preferences. Those of this view believe that overbearing enforcement of antitrust laws interferes with the free market and harms consumers.
The opposite approach, or "fairness first approach," obviously focuses on fairness. All of the ongoing lawsuits seem to fall under this perspective. Broadly they allege that Google and Facebook of using their power to "suppress competition" and "take advantage of consumers," accord...