The Law and Economics of Big Tech: Antitrust Law, Government Regulation and Amazon
Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook (owned by Meta Platforms), Google (owned by Alphabet) and Apple are under increased scrutiny from politicians, government agencies and the public for issues ranging from failing to protect the privacy of user data to possible violations of antitrust law. This assignment asks you to undertake a legal and economic analysis of one of these Big Tech companies: Amazon. The required readings are:
1) Tim Wu’s The Curse of Bigness (2018) [ISBN: 978-0-9997454-6-5]
2) Lina Kahn’s “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylj/vol126/iss3/3
3) Chapter 24 (“Antitrust Laws”) in: Nancy Kubasek, Bartley Brennan and Neil Browne, The Legal Environment of Business (Eighth Edition) [ISBN: 978-0-13-407403-0].
Other readings assigned in class may also be helpful.
Your paper should be written as a case study that employs the critical thinking steps outlined in the textbook (see The Legal Environment of Business, p. 5) with modifications indicated below. Your paper should be approximately 7-8 pages in length and will be worth 15% of your final grade. An initial draft of your paper is due March 2. This draft will not be graded but I will provide you with written feedback on your paper.
Case Study Format: Guiding Questions
Facts: Describe key facts pertinent for determining whether and how antitrust laws and/or other government regulations might apply to Amazon. Also, be sure to describe the business model and practices employed by Amazon en route to becoming one of the world’s largest corporations.
Issues: What are the issues or concerns regarding Amazon’s business practices? What legal and/or government regulatory questions arise when examining Amazon’s business situation or conduct?
Applicable Economic Concepts and Relevant Laws: Use economic analysis to shed light on the issues surrounding Amazon—e.g., whether the business is in violation of antitrust law and/or in need of regulation. What antitrust laws, prior legal cases and/or government regulatory practices might be applicable to the Amazon case?
Ethical Norms: How do the textbook’s ethical norms (freedom, security, justice and efficiency) apply to the case?
Policy Recommendation: What are your recommendations with respect to whether government policy action should be taken against Amazon? For example, do you recommend bringing an antitrust suit against Amazon or favor some other government regulatory action against Amazon? Carefully explain your reasoning.
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