Regulating the Digital Platforms: Where will the antitrust investigations of Facebook and Google lead?
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EST
Join us for a seminar with the Shorenstein Center’s Digital Platforms & Democracy Senior Fellows: Tom Wheeler, Dipayan Ghosh, Philip Verveer, and Gene Kimmelman. The spread of hate speech and violent conduct. The disinformation problem and foreign election interference. Alleged suppression of political speech. Persistent breaches of public trust. These and countless other incidents have led competition policy regulators the world over to set their sights on the digital behemoths of Silicon Valley — and particularly, Facebook and Google. In the United States, state attorneys general, the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the House Judiciary Committee have all launched serious inquiries into potential anti-competitive aspects of internet firms’ commercial practices. While there are legitimate antitrust concerns to drive these probes, some are wondering if other political motives may be fueling some of this activity. And whether earnest or not, where will these inquiries lead in the end, and what impact will they have on broader policy concerns pertaining to the internet in the United States and around the world?
Tom Wheeler is a businessman, author, and was Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from 2013 to 2017. Presently, he is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. For over four decades, Wheeler has been involved with new telecommunications networks and services. At the FCC he led the efforts that resulted in the adoption of Net Neutrality, privacy protections for consumers, and increased cybersecurity, among other policies. His chairmanship has been described as, “The most productive Commission in the history of the agency.” During the Obama-Biden Transition of 2008/09 Mr. Wheeler led activities overseeing the agencies of government dealing with science, technology, space and the arts. As an entrepreneur, he started or helped start multiple companies offering innovative cable, wireless and video communications services. He is the only person to be selected to both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Wireless Hall of Fame, a fact President Obama joked made him “the Bo Jackson of telecom.” Prior to being appointed Chairman of the FCC by President Obama, Wheeler was Managing Director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage Internet Protocol (IP)-based companies. He is CEO of the Shiloh Group, a strategy development and private investment company specializing in telecommunications services. He co-founded SmartBrief, the Internet’s largest curated information service for vertical markets. From 1976 to 1984, Wheeler was associated with the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) where he was President and CEO from 1979 to 1984. Following NCTA Wheeler was CEO of several high-tech companies, including the first company to offer high-speed delivery to home computers and the first digital video satellite service. From 1992 to 2004, Wheeler served as President and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).
Mr. Wheeler’s newest book is From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future (Brookings Press, 2019). He is also the author of Take Command: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000), and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006). His commentaries on current events have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other leading publications. Mr. Wheeler served on President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board prior to being named to the FCC. Presidents Clinton and Bush each appointed him a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is the former Chairman and President of the National Archives Foundation, and a former board member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University and a recipient of Ohio State’s Alumni Medal. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Rochester Institute of Technology. Mr. Wheeler resides in Washington, D.C.
Dipayan Ghosh is Co-Director of the Digital Platforms & Democracy Project and Shorenstein Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he works on digital privacy, artificial intelligence, and civil rights. Ghosh previously worked on global privacy and public policy issues at Facebook, where he led strategic efforts to address privacy and security. Prior, Ghosh was a technology and economic policy advisor in the Obama White House. He served across the Office of Science & Technology Policy and the National Economic Council, where he worked on issues concerning big data’s impact on consumer privacy and the digital economy. Ghosh has served as a Public Interest Technology fellow at New America, the Washington-based public policy think tank. He received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering & computer science at Cornell University and completed postdoctoral study in the same field at the University of California, Berkeley.
Philip Verveer has practiced antitrust and communications law as a private attorney and government official for 50 years. He twice served as an official at the FCC and was the U.S. ambassador for international communications and information policy during the first Obama Administration. He also served as the Justice Department’s first lead counsel in the investigation and early part of the litigation that eventuated in the breakup of AT&T.
Gene Kimmelman is a senior fellow for the Shorenstein Center’s Digital Platforms & Democracy Project, a non-resident senior fellow for the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund and a Senior Advisor for Public Knowledge. Previously, Gene served as President and CEO of Public Knowledge, Director of the Internet Freedom and Human Rights project at the New America Foundation, and as Chief Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Gene served as Vice President for Federal and International Affairs at Consumers Union. Gene has also served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Legislative Director for the Consumer Federation of America. Gene began his career as a consumer advocate and Staff Attorney for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. Regarding his education, Gene is a graduate of Brown University and holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia where he received the Fortsman Fellowship and was able to become a Fulbright Fellow as well. Presently, he serves as Adjunct Law Professor at George Washington University School of Law, a Senior Fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado and is on the Board of International Media Support