In need of a novel concept: The Power of Big Tech companies as Modern Bigness – Centre Talk
October 2022. The UCD Centre for Digital Policy is pleased to host Professor Anna Gerbrandy and Assistant Professor Pauline Phoa from Utrecht University to consider the following question: Does the power of Big Tech companies need regulation?
To answer this question, we first need to understand what ‘power’ means. In the context of an ERC funded research project on the possible response of European Competition law to the (impact of) powerful platform companies, Anna and Pauline propose a new concept of power. They propose that this is needed, because the ‘normal’ European competition law concept of market power falls short of doing justice to the reality and complexity of the power of these corporations. This new concept – Modern Bigness – intends to capture all tenets of corporate power of the biggest technology platforms. They argue that the power of Big Techs is not just economic power – relevant for our ‘home’ field of competition law – but also reaches into political, social and personal domains; that this power not just manifests instrumentally, but also structurally and discursively. Only after understanding ‘power’ in this context, can regulators focus on a possible competition law or regulatory response.