Do you have any conspiracy theories?
We'd love to hear them. Meanwhile, hear from us on antitrust pandemonium, the Universal Service Fund, the fight over 5G, and more.
Whew — what a week for antitrust! In a moment, we’ll dive into the potential revisions to the FTC’s merger guidelines and the markup of some wildly ill-conceived legislation, but for now, I think we all could go for something lighter. Anyone seen “Encanto” yet?
After seeing the entire Internet fall in love with “Encanto” over the last few weeks, I finally watched it, and it’s definitely worth the hype. Not only is the film stylistically beautiful, but the music is also wonderfully catchy. Clearly, that wasn’t just my own experience, since one song from the movie, “We Don’t Talk about Bruno,” has become Disney’s most popular musical hit in decades!
If you raised (or babysat) any kids during the early 2010s, you know all too well how much “Let It Go” and the rest of Disney’s “Frozen” blew up, so managing to outflank that craze is a huge feat for “Encanto.” This weekend might be the one to watch this (literally) magical portrayal of a Colombian family, if you haven’t already.
Competition. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee marked up the American Choice and Innovation Online Act — unfortunately, without doing their due diligence by holding even one hearing on the text of the bill. Berin and Corbin sent a letter to the Committee leadership outlining how the bill would be weaponized against content moderation, especially by a highly politicized FTC. He and Andy also live-tweeted the mind-boggling markup until the bill ultimately passed with a vote of 16-6.
You can catch Bilal speaking on a panel about international developments in antitrust during the first year of the Biden Administration next week! He’ll be appearing at the Mercatus Antitrust Forum on Monday, January 26 at 3:30pm. Click here to register directly.
On Tuesday, FTC Chair Lina Khan and Jonathan Kanter, Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, held a joint press conference where the agencies announced potential revisions to the Horizontal and Vertical Merger Guidelines. Andy live-tweeted the press conference, which covered the agencies’ vision for the new guidelines and expanded upon their Request for Information on Merger Enforcement. Both Khan and Kanter hinted at a broader and more aggressive approach to challenging future mergers.
FCC. We filed comments in response to the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry on the impact on the Universal Service Fund by the large amount of money being spent under the recent Infrastructure Act. The FCC must report to Congress in August, and we paint a grim picture of waste, fraud and abuse that will result from dumping that much money into the broadband ecosystem without any valid maps to show where it should be spent, or mechanisms to track and harmonize redundant programs across multiple agencies. You can retweet our press release on these comments here, or share the link directly from our website. Also, our point that the FCC can’t just require Big Tech to pay into USF was quoted in a (paywalled) Law360 article!
Spectrum. Jim was quoted in Roll Call on the current fight over 5G, C-Band, and allegations of interference to aviation. Jim’s point (not quoted well), was that all the “greenfield” spectrum is gone, and future reallocations of spectrum are all going to be tough battles pitting entrenched (often government) users against new innovative uses.
Public Opinion. If Corbin weren’t fighting for sane policy solutions here at TechFreedom, he’d probably be in his basement cooking up wild conspiracy theories on the Internet. (Just kidding — we hope.) So he was stoked to welcome a conspiracy theory expert (not to be confused with an expert conspiracy theorist!) onto the latest episode of the Tech Policy Podcast. Professor Joe Uscinski is skeptical of the widespread hunch that social media is driving a golden age of conspiracy theories. He and Corbin examine that view, with a focus on what polling data says about the prevalence of conspiracy theories over time. They also discuss how the Internet affects public opinion (or not), when conspiracy theories become dangerous, how people should form beliefs, whether birds are real, whether King James II fathered a “warming pan baby,” and more.