Recently, the European Court of Justice sent a fine against Intel, for anti-trust violations, back to the lower courts to review. In 2009, a lower court ruled that Intel blocked competition by giving rebates to certain other technology companies and fined Intel for $1.3 billion.
This decision is a break from many recent anti-trust decisions and the more general political atmosphere. In June 2017, an EU anti-trust chief slapped Google with a $2.7 billion fine for manipulating search results. China alleged that Qualcomm violated anti-trust policies and they settled for a $975 million fine. Both President Trump and a sizable number of Democrats have stated harsher anti-monopoly policies should apply to technology giants. However, this decision does not stand alone and there have been some other recent events where there was a break away from antitrust initiatives. Kaspersky filed and subsequently withdrew a statement alleging Google’s anti-virus policies created a monopoly.
Anti-trust cases are reflective of larger questions like how should the law regulate technology giants. People’s political philosophies frequently impact their answers. Some argue anti-trust laws can stifle business and entrepreneurship. They state that digital giants are different from the lumber or oil monopolies of yesteryear. Others contest that technology companies are huge, international companies that possess people’s personal data. They are prime candidates for regulation.
Whatever the lower courts decide, anti-trust laws and its application to technology giants are not an issue that will be disappearing anytime soon.