2019 Antitrust and Competition Conference - Digital Platforms, Markets, and Democracy: A Path Forward

May 15-16, 2019
Gleacher Center, 450 N Cityfront Plaza Drive, Chicago IL


About the Conference

Digital platforms—most prominent among them Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter and Google—are raising pressing policy questions concerning their market power, handling of personal data and influence on global media and political systems. Under the leadership of faculty director Luigi Zingales, the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State has oriented these questions at the forefront of its research agenda and programming.

In 2017, the Center embarked on an ambitious project to reinvigorate the discussion of concentration and monopoly in the United States, culminating in the conference Is There a Concentration Problem in America? In 2018, the Center again brought together scholars and influencers to consider the market power of digital platforms specifically. From the 2018 conference on Digital Platforms and Concentration a consensus emerged that the issues raised by these platforms must be addressed, and—to provide independent expertise on the appropriate policy responses—the Stigler Center formed a Committee for the Study of Digital Platforms. The Stigler Center’s 2019 conference Digital Platforms, Markets and Democracy: A Path Forward, will discuss the initial conclusions of this Committee.

The Committee’s ultimate goal is to produce independent white papers on the platforms’ economic and societal impact that will inform decision and policy-making. The committee is composed of four specialized subcommittees, comprising a chair and specialists in different fields (economics, law, data sciences, media, public policy, political science, venture capitalists, etc.). Subcommittee members include scholars from many of the world’s most renowned universities and think tanks. This diversification is required for each group to be capable of comprehending and addressing in a holistic manner the challenges and opportunities associated with digital platforms.

Each subcommittee has been tasked with drafting a white paper that will address digital platforms impact on one of four main topics:

  • the economy and market structure (including possible changes to antitrust policy)
  • privacy and data protection
  • the media (as a key pillar of a democratic society)
  • the political system (and matters associated with the political arena)

On May 15 and 16, the participants of the Stigler Center’s 2019 conference on Digital Platforms, Markets and Democracy: A Path Forward will have the opportunity to discuss the initial conclusions reached by each subcommittee, as well as other similar initiatives around the world.

The conference is by invitation only. If you would like to request an invitation, please click here.

Agenda

Subject to Change

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

8:00 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.

Breakfast

8:20 a.m. – 8:25 a.m.

Welcome remarks

8:25 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Opening remarks

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Economy and Market Structure
The panel will debate the committee’s white paper describing the economic structure of digital markets, the problems that result, and possible solutions. The topics covered will include, among others: what are the special characteristics of digital services and therefore digital markets? what empirical evidence do we have on structure in these markets and on outcomes, such as prices, quality, and innovation? If there is a lack of competition in this sector, what harms result from that deficit? How might any lack of competition be addressed with antitrust or other public policies, and what are the costs and benefits of public attempts to shape the future of the digital economy?

  • Fiona Scott Morton, Yale University School of Management
  • Randal C. Picker, University of Chicago Law School
  • Matt Stoller, Open Markets Institute

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Break

10:15 a.m.– 11:35 a.m.

Economy and Market Structure: The Broader Debate
Digital platforms’ pervasive impact on many different areas of our society is raising continuous attention from scholars and policymakers in the US and around the world. This second panel will discuss other initiatives that are currently addressing the digital platforms’ impact on the economy and market structure.

Moderator: Patrick Foulis, The Economist

  • Jason Furman, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Jacques Crémer, Toulouse School of Economics
  • Alanna Rutherford, Visa
  • Dennis Carlton, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

11:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Break

12:05 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Lunch

1:20 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.

Break

1:50 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.

Political System
In light of concerns about the role of social media in the 2016 US presidential election, the UK Brexit referenda, and other recent elections, new attention is focused on what the major platforms should due to combat malicious content which may influence elections, inflame inter-group conflict, or polarize society.   We consider the existing evidence for these “political externalities” of social media and consider proposals for industry self-regulation as well as the case for government intervention.  We discuss options for government regulations as well as the constraints imposed by the First Amendment and the firms’ rising political influence.

  • Nolan McCarty, Princeton University
  • John de Figueiredo, Duke Law School and the Fuqua School of Business
  • Margaret Roberts, UC San Diego

3:20 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

Break

3:35 p.m. – 4:55 p.m.

Political System: The Broader Debate
Digital platforms’ pervasive impact on many different areas of our society is raising continuous attention from scholars and policymakers in the US and around the world. This second panel will discuss other initiatives that are currently addressing the digital platforms’ impact on political systems.

Moderator: David Dayen, The American Prospect

  • Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University
  • Barry Lynn, Open Markets Institute
  • Ellen L. Weintraub, Federal Election Commission

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.

Reception

Dinner

Thursday, May 16, 2019

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Breakfast

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Privacy and Data Protection
Protecting consumer privacy and data security are two of the core challenges surrounding digital platforms and the broader economy, both in the United States and around the world. This panel will propose and evaluate a series of measures to enhance consumer privacy in ways that are cognizant heterogeneous consumer preferences while taking seriously notions of user autonomy and meaningful consent to uses of personal data. The panel will also lay out proposals to deal with the federal government’s privacy and security practices, and to enhance the ability of competing firms to share information about common threats to data security interests.

  • Lior Strahilevitz, University of Chicago Law School
  • Omri Ben-Shahar, University of Chicago Law School
  • Terrell McSweeny, Federal Trade Commission

10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:35 a.m.

Privacy and Data Protection: The Broader Debate
Digital platforms’ pervasive impact on many different areas of our society is raising continuous attention from scholars and policymakers in the US and around the world. This second panel will discuss other initiatives that are currently addressing the digital platforms’ impact on privacy and data protection.

  • Alessandro Acquisti, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ashkan Soltani

11:35 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

Break

12:05 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Lunch

1:20 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.

Break

1:50 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.

Media Industry
The digital revolution has contributed immensely to information production and diffusion in the last 2 decades. It also disrupted the business model of most news outlets around the world. The ascent of digital platforms brought further, deeper challenges to the news media. The dominance of the platforms altered the production, distribution and consumption of news. The panel will debate the economics of the news media before and after the rise of digital platforms and whether we need new laws or interventions to enable quality, independent news and journalism.

  • Guy Rolnik, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Julia Cagé, Sciences Po

3:20 p.m. – 3:35 p.m.

Break

3:35 p.m. – 4:55 p.m.

Media Industry: The Broader Debate
Digital platforms’ pervasive impact on many different areas of our society is raising continuous attention from scholars and policymakers in the US and around the world. This second panel will discuss other initiatives that are currently addressing the digital platforms’ impact on the media industry.

Moderator: Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica

  • Emily Bell, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Robert McChesney, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Austan Goolsbee, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

4:55 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks

5:00 p.m.

Conference Adjourns


Logistics

The conference venue is the Gleacher Center, located in downtown Chicago at 450 N Cityfront Plaza Dr. There are a number of hotels in the area.

LondonHouse Chicago - Conference Hotel
85 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601
312.357.1200

InterContinental Chicago
505 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611
800.628.2112

Club Quarters Wacker at Michigan
75 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601
312.357.6400; Reservations: 203.905.2100

Omni Chicago
676 N. Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60611
312.944.6664

Conference Organizers

  • Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
  • Guy Rolnik, Clinical Associate Professor of Strategic Management, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Additional Resources

For more information, contact:

Sebastian Burca, Associate Director, Stigler Center
773.834.2054
sebastian.burca@chicagobooth.edu

 


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