What Does the Chicago School Teach About Internet Search and the Antitrust Treatment of Google?
Antitrust agencies in the United States and the European Union began investigating Google’s search practices in 2010. Google’s critics have consisted mainly of its competitors, particularly Microsoft, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other search engines. They have alleged that Google is making it more difficult for them to compete by including specialized search results in general search pages and limiting access to search inputs, including “scale,” Google content, and the Android platform. Those claims contradict real-world experiences in search. They demonstrate competitors’ efforts to compete not by investing in efficiency, quality, or innovation, but by using antitrust law to punish the successful competitor. The Chicago School of law and economics teaches—and the Supreme Court has long affirmed—that antitrust law exists to protect consumers, not competitors. Penalizing Google’s practices as anticompetitive would violate that principle, reduce dynamic competition in search, and harm the consumers that the antitrust laws are intended to protect.