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Competition Lore Podcast

Competition Lore

20 episodes

Dec 4, 2019

Developing policy at Facebook? 

If we regulate to protect privacy, do we risk competition? If we regulate to strengthen competition, do we risk innovation? If we regulate to exclude harmful content, do we risk free speech?

Over-simplified perhaps, but these are in essence some of the hard questions in tech policy right now, and grappling with such questions from within a tech company must be one of the most challenging jobs there is.

In this episode we are joined by Matt Perault, former head of global policy development at Facebook. Matt has looked the challenges squarely in the eye and shares with us how the social network giant has been dealing with them, together with his thoughts on how interactions between stakeholders can affect policy outcomes, for better or worse. It’s a rich and wide ranging conversation that you won’t want to miss. 

Matt has now taken on the role as Director of a Center for Science and Technology Policy at Duke University. The Center will act as an interdisciplinary hub for science and technology policy research and bring together stakeholders from the tech industry, government and academia to exchange insights and perspectives on policy development.

Here are some of items on which we touched in the episode: Mark Zuckerberg’s recent speech at Georgetown University, Facebook’s Statement on a Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking and its White Paper on Data Portability.

You can read a recent Opinion piece by Matt in the New York Times here.  His Center is launching a podcast on tech policy, TechKnowledgey, so be sure to take a listen.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded.

Nov 13, 2019

Doing Digital in India? 

Across developing countries, connectivity through internet access and use, particularly on mobile devices, has vastly improved over the last decade. In large part this is due to the efforts of Big Tech and their strategies of reaching “the next billion users”.  As welcome as such efforts may be, there are risks also for competition as a key driver of economic development and growth. So how have governments and competition authorities in developing countries been responding?

In this episode we are joined by Shilpi Battacharya, Associate Professor at Jindal Global University, and Ujjwal Kumar, Policy Advisor at Consumer Unity and Trust Society. We discuss developments in India, a country where the authorities have been on the front foot in grappling with the issues and, as you’ll hear, the responses and outcomes to date have been mixed.

Some of the discussion refers to a recent BRICs report on digital era competition.  You can find the report here.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Oct 22, 2019

Being DG Comp's Chief Economist? 

There wouldn’t be too many more prized, and pressured, jobs than as Chief Economist at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, and particularly in recent years when DG Comp has been at the vanguard of developments in antitrust enforcement against Big Tech.

Professor Tommaso Valletti has just completed his three year term as DG Comp’s Chief Economist and has much to share about his experience.  In this episode we canvas what it’s like being in the “Brussels bubble”, working with Margrethe Vestager, why he has called himself “Professor Lipstick”, academic capture by Big Tech, charges of political interference in EU competition law enforcement, what the next chapter for DG Comp is likely to hold and much more.

Tommaso is also well-known for his tweets and you can follow him on Twitter @TomValletti and/or read his academic work here.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Oct 2, 2019

Too much attention? 

Much of the antitrust discourse nowadays is about personal data and the implications of concentrated digital markets for our privacy.  But, in focussing on data, have we been missing the wood for the trees?  Are we in fact trading our scarce and precious attention for many of the supposedly free services we enjoy online?

In this episode our guest, Associate Professor John Newman from the University of Miami, discusses his research on attention markets, why he thinks there are substantial individual and societal costs associated with concentration in these markets and the role for antitrust and regulation in responding to this under-explored problem.

The episode was recorded in person at the Melbourne Law School during John’s visit to deliver a keynote on the topic Attention Scarcity, Technology and Law at the Digital Citizens Conference on 24-26 July.

You can find John’s academic writing on this and related topics here and you might also dip into his blog

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Sep 4, 2019

Law unto themselves? 

The pervasiveness of platforms in our societies is hard to ignore.  It has wide ranging effects on and implications for our economic, social and cultural practices and lives. Some focus on the dominance of digital platforms as a failing of antitrust and call for an entire overhaul of the intellectual enterprise. Others go further.  One of those is the guest on this episode, Professor Frank Pasquale of the University of Maryland, author of the widely acclaimed book, The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms that Control Money and Information.

For Frank, the societal concerns raised by platform dominance cannot be dealt with adequately as a matter of economic analysis. Rather, the culture, practices and effects of these companies raise fundamental questions about the type of society we want to live in. In light of this, it behoves us, he argues, to engage in a holistic philosophical inquiry, one that concerns our collective values and is not reduced to the methodological individualism of neoclassical economics. His call to action is a wholesale wresting back of control by the state.

This episode was recorded before a live audience at the Melbourne Law School on the occasion of Frank’s visit for the Digital Citizens Conference held 24-26 July.

You can read some of Frank’s writing here and his book, The Black Box Society, is available here. You can follow him on Twitter @FrankPasquale.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Aug 21, 2019

Solutions from Stigler? 

The George Stigler Centre at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business has been undertaking a wide ranging study of digital platforms. One aspect of the study has a focus on market structures in digital platform markets and the antitrust implications. Other aspects explore privacy and data protection, media and the political system. 

Each of these aspects of the study have been examined by a subcommittee which has produced a report with its key findings and recommendations, to facilitate further discussion and inform policymaking.

Our guest in this episode is Professor Fiona Scott-Morton from the Yale School of Management. Fiona chaired the subcommittee focussing on market structures and antitrust.   We discuss the analysis in the report and Fiona shares her views on the antitrust reforms and regulation needed to tackle the challenges posed for competition in digital platform markets.

You can find the report here.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Jul 31, 2019

More on digital mergers? 

Between them GAFA have made more than 400 acquisitions over just the last 10 years. With the benefit of hindsight, many of these acquisitions have been portrayed as strategic or killer acquisitions, designed to snuff out potential or emergent competitive threats.

Recognising this, there is a growing view that competition authorities must be more prepared to protect competitive market structures and to do so may require changes in the approach taken to error cost and counterfactual assessments in merger review.

In this episode our guest is Dr Paolo Buccirossi, Founder and Director of the economics consultancy, Lear. Lear has undertaken a first-of-its kind report for the UK Competition and Markets Authority involving ex post assessment of a series of mergers in the digital sector that were cleared.  We discuss the report’s key findings and consequent recommendations for future merger practice.

The report also reviews the theories of harm typically examined by competition authorities in such cases and considers their consistency with the burgeoning economic literature in this area. While we did not canvas these parts of the report in the episode, they are definitely recommended reading.

You can find the Lear report here.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Jul 17, 2019

Big Tech politics? 

If you spend any time reading the US press you will have realised that there’s recently been a potentially dramatic series of developments when it comes to Big Tech antitrust.  Investigations, congressional hearings and even break ups are all on the menu.

In this episode our guest is Matt Stoller, Fellow at the Open Markets Institute, a US think-tank on a mission to address threats posed to democracy from monopoly power. 

Matt’s daily diet is the politics and policy of antitrust and he guides us through the cast of characters and scripts of recent events, while at the same time sharing his perspective on why we should look at Big Tech issues through an ideological, not just a methodological lens.

Matt’s book, Goliath: The 100 Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, will be released in October.

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded

Jul 3, 2019

Blockchain antitrust – old wine in new bottles? 

Blockchain is a technology that both bedazzles and bewilders!  For its hard core advocates, it is seen as the answer to the problem of concentrated power on the internet.  For others, its workings are as impenetrable as its implications.

In this episode we are joined by Dr Thibault Schrepel, Assistant Professor at the Utrecht University School of Law and Faculty Affiliate at the Harvard Berkman Center, who has made researching and teaching blockchain antitrust his specialty.  We canvas the risks of anti-competitive conduct on blockchain and the challenges it is likely to pose for authorities in enforcing the competition rules.

For those who are fairly new to the topic, you may find it useful to listen first to episodes 23 and 24 in which we laid the groundwork for this episode with an explanation of what this technology involves and whether it might pose a threat to Big Tech.

You can also find Thibault on his innovative website, Concurrentialiste, or follow him on Twitter @LeConcurrential, and I highly recommend his recent blockchain papers:

Is Blockchain the death of Antitrust Law? The Blockchain Antitrust Paradox, 2018

Collusion by Blockchain and Smart Contracts, 2019

Antitrust Without Romance, 2019

Featuring regular cut-through interviews with leading thinkers, movers and shakers, Competition Lore is a podcast series that engages us all in a debate about the transformative potential and risks of digitalised competition.

Join Caron Beaton-Wells, Professor in Competition Law at the University of Melbourne, to tackle what it means to participate as a competitor, consumer or citizen in a digital economy and society.

Competition Lore is produced by Written & Recorded.

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