In 2007, Google released the Android code for free under an open-source license. Being “open source” means that anyone can access the source code and use it to make their own, modified operating system—a “fork.” This was key to Android’s adoption.
First, Google’s apparent lack of control over an open-source operating system attracted skeptical manufacturers and carriers of mobile phones to use Android instead of the other choices then available. As the Android team leader observed to Google’s board of directors, “Google was historically seen as a threat” to these distributors. But an open-source model suggested that they—and not Google—would ultimately retain control over their devices and the app ecosystem on those devices.
Second, once enough major distributors agreed to use Android, the operating system attracted developers looking for wide distribution of their apps. As more app developers focused their efforts on designing Android apps, Android became more attractive to consumers, which in turn led even more developers to design for Android. The result was a must-have ecosystem of Android apps.
Third, to help the Android ecosystem achieve critical mass and to advance the network effects, Google “shared” its search advertising and app store revenues with distributors as further inducement to give up control. As one senior executive explained about Android Market, an earlier name for Google’s app store, “Android Market is a bitter pill for carriers, and generous revenue share is the sugar that makes it go down smoother.” In other words, beginning over ten years ago, Google used revenue sharing to attract partners to Android; as discussed below, Google uses revenue sharing to keep them locked in today.
By 2010, the Android team leader noted that “Android is poised for world domination—the success story of the decade.” He was right; the strategy worked./
Once dominant, Google used its control over its app store to extract rents. If phone manufacturers wanted interoperability with Google’s apps and wanted Google’s app store loaded on their phones, then they had to use Google’s version of Android (and not a competing version) and had to preload and feature Google’s search engine, browser, and other apps (and not competitors’). So Google’s Android began as an open mobile phone operating system, which once dominant, was snapped shut with anticompetitive tying and anti-fragmentation agreements.
Google repeated this strategy for its other products. Its search engine, which was once “a ‘turnstile’ to the rest of the web” evolved into “a ‘walled garden’ that increasingly keeps users within its sites.”
Likewise, for years, Google Maps was open, as Google “offered a free tier of the Maps API, incentivizing developers to build their apps with Google Maps.” After acquiring its only significant rival, Waze, Google controlled an estimated 81 percent share of the market for navigation mapping services. With its dominance secured, Google in 2018 “introduced a single ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing plan for the core mapping APIs.” This shift, which “dramatically reduced the number of free Maps API calls a firm could make—from 25,000 per day to around 930 per day,” amounted “to a price increase of 1,400%.”
After dominating these platforms, Google then turned its sights to colonize other platforms, where it can ensure that its search engine is the preferred (or only) option. As the United States alleged, “Google is now positioning itself to dominate search access points on the next generation of search platforms: internet-enabled devices such as smart speakers, home appliances, and automobiles (so-called internet-of-things, or IoT, devices).”
As the states and FTC allege in their complaints, Facebook employed a similar Venus flytrap strategy for its social network.
The result is that the data-opolies expand their long shadow, acquiring, copying, or killing off potential threats, chilling innovation, taxing all the businesses reliant on their platforms, extracting our data, and fostering our addiction to their products.
III. How Can We Rein in these Data-opolies?
In their annual reports, the data-opolies identify intense competition as a risk factor. Despite these claims, their monopolies are secure. Even during the current pandemic, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook raked in “$38 billion in profits on nearly $240 billion in revenue” in the third quarter of 2020.
Antitrust law is not significantly deterring these data-opolies. Earlier in 2020, while under the microscope of the United States and other antitrust authorities who were investigating Google’s anticompetitive conduct, Google actually coerced distributors into contracts that were “even more exclusionary than the agreements they replaced.”
The emerging consensus is that the data-opolies will continue to leverage their power into other markets, and the digital platform economy will not perform efficiently or in our interest. There are multiple market failures, including:
(i) In leveraging their power to new markets, data-opolies are expanding, rather than shrinking.
(ii) Privacy competition is stifled. In many markets where there is competition, it is a toxic variety. Companies compete to extract more data from us (but not for us).
(iii) The data-opolies’ products are intentionally addictive and thereby erode individuals’ ability to make free choices. A former Facebook product manager told the House Subcommittee staff, that as a product manager at Facebook “your only job is to get an extra minute. It’s immoral. They don’t ask where it’s coming from. They can monetize a minute of activity at a certain rate. So the only metric is getting another minute.”
If the current laws are inadequate to address the current market failures, what can be done? Several policy reforms address the data-opolies’ anticompetitive playbook. Other policies seek to ameliorate their anticompetitive effects, and a few address the source of their power.
The most promising remedies proposed thus far include the following:
First is a greater need for a more proactive antitrust review of dominant platforms. The 2020 House Antitrust Report is as much an indictment on the U.S. antitrust enforcers, as the data-opolies. In its investigation, the House Subcommittee “uncovered evidence that the antitrust agencies failed, at key occasions, to stop monopolists from rolling up their competitors and failed to protect the American people from abuses of monopoly power. Forceful agency action is critical.”
We are already witnessing an antitrust resurgence with the announcement of task forces in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission; administrative and legislative hearings; investigations by numerous state attorneys general, investigations by European Commission, EU Member States, and competition authorities in Australia, India, Argentina, Brazil, and Korea. The monopolization cases against Google and Facebook, the first significant monopolization cases in the United States over twenty years, follow the European Commission’s three cases against Google and Germany’s case against Facebook, with more cases likely.
Second is updating and strengthening the competition laws.One problem in the United States is the Supreme Court’s rambling the wilds of economic theory, and the lower courts picking up the Court’s dicta to make it harder to enforce the antitrust laws. As the House Republicans noted in their separate report, it “is appropriate for Congress to remind the agencies and the courts of the original Congressional intent behind the antitrust laws, including that our enforcement agencies should be able to bring cases, like a review of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, based on potential competition doctrine without facing impossible evidentiary burdens.”
The House Report recommends that Congress consider reasserting antitrust’s anti-monopoly goals. As data-opolies’ anticompetitive actions pose economic, social, and political risks, so too Congress should “consider reasserting the original intent and broad goals of the antitrust laws, by clarifying that they are designed to protect not just consumers, but also workers, entrepreneurs, independent businesses, open markets, a fair economy, and democratic ideals.” The House Report also recommends rehabilitating monopolization law by, among other things, incorporating Europe’s abuse of dominance standard.To get at the data-opolies’ anticompetitive playbook, the House Report calls for revitalizing current antitrust doctrines that the courts have marginalized, such as
· the monopoly leveraging theory (where the data-opolies leverage their power to colonize new platforms),
· duty to deal/essential facilities doctrine (so that the data-opoly cannot hinder or eliminate interoperability with other services, such as Facebook preventing users of the video-sharing platform Vine to find their friends they already knew on Facebook’s platform through Facebook’s “Find Contacts” feature),
· tying claims (so that Google cannot coerce phone manufacturers into preloading on their smartphones and setting as the default Google’s search engine, Chrome browser, and other apps as conditions for receiving the Google Play app store),
· predatory pricing standards (by eliminating the Supreme Court’s recoupment element, which has made successfully bringing a case impossible, even with evidence of predation, such as Amazon’s tactics against Diapers.com),
· stronger standards against the data-opolies’ self-preferencing their products and services (so that Google cannot favor its vertical searches, such as Google Flights, Google Hotel Ads, and Google Local Search One-Boxes, by placing them prominently at the top of the search results, where the user is more inclined to click),and
· stronger standards against anticompetitive product designs.
The House Report also recommends cutting back much of the Supreme Court’s bad dicta that have mired antitrust enforcement. So, rather than having to prove market power with circumstantial evidence (such as the plaintiff showing the defendant’s high market share in a relevant antitrust market, a lengthy, uncertain process that primarily benefits testifying economic experts), the agencies and courts can rely on direct evidence of monopoly power (such as evidence that the platform is coercing others to do things they would not have to do in a competitive market).
Third are measures to deter data hoarding. These include measures to improve the flow of data to rivals, including promoting multi-homing by users, targeting data-opolies’ use of individuals’ default bias to entrench their market power (such as Google paying Apple $12 billion to be the default search engine on Safari), reducing switching costs (such as improving data portability and interoperability), and imposing, at times, a duty for data-opolies to share data with rivals, while safeguarding individuals’ privacy interests.
Fourth is improving privacy protections. Notice-and-consent privacy policies have failed. Users need to regain their control over their privacy and data and prevent the data-opolies from collecting far more data than they could if competition were robust and healthy. While the competition policies differ on what measures must be undertaken, they recognize that stronger privacy protections are necessary, but not sufficient, to prevent the data-opolies’ data hoarding.
Fifth is targeting killer acquisitions. Every jurisdiction that has studied these digital platform markets has called for greater antitrust scrutiny of data-driven and platform-related mergers and acquisitions, such as the European Commission’s and DOJ’s scrutiny of Google’s proposed acquisition of Fitbit. To prevent data-opolies from acquiring these nascent competitive threats, the House Report recommends clarifying that proving harm post-merger would not require the agency to prove that the nascent competitor would have been a successful entrant in a but-for world. Moreover, the House Report proposes “a presumption against acquisitions of startups by dominant firms, particularly those that serve as direct competitors, as well as those operating in adjacent or related markets.”
Sixth is ex-ante codes of conduct enforced by a regulatory agency. Many companies live in fear today of the four powerful platforms. A change in the platforms’ algorithms can dry up their search traffic and reduce their visibility, whether in the app store or Amazon’s shopping network. Given the data-opolies’ superior bargaining power over advertisers, website publishers, app developers, news organizations, and individuals, the aim here is to improve the process for redressing the market participants’ complaints involving these platforms, as antitrust enforcement typically takes too long, the relief often comes too late, and happens too infrequently to be relied upon. As it is difficult, outside of copyright, trademark, and patent law, to prevent dominant firms from copying their rivals, these policy proposals turn to the K in the ACK strategy by making it harder for the dominant platforms to kill off these smaller rivals and wield their power against those that rely on the platforms. So, the U.K. and Australian competition authorities have urged for regulations, ex-ante codes of conduct, and an independent ombudsman to redress the anti-competitive behavior of these data-opolies. The independent agency would quickly resolve these disputes using the code of conduct.
Seventhis to expand the enforcer’s toolbox to prevent the platforms from colonizing and dominating new platforms. This includes considering new theories of harm under the existing laws, including “the use of covert tracking and data collection to exclude competitors” and incorporating “into their analysis the impact of data on alternative dimensions of competition, such as quality and innovation.” It also involves creating new competition tools, such as ones “to deal with structural competition problems across markets which cannot be tackled or addressed in the most effective manner on the basis of the current competition rules (e.g. preventing markets from tipping).” So rather than waiting for the colonized platforms (like wearables or digital assistants Alexa, Siri, and Google Home) to tip to one or two of these data-oplies, the agency can intercede with interim measures and market sector reviews.
Eighth are policies to address specific problems in markets dominated by these data-opolies. For example, measures are sought to increase transparency in the online advertising markets. Other measures seek to reduce the regulatory imbalance in how the traditional news media is treated versus the digital platforms in terms of content.
Ninth are structural remedies. As enforcers increasingly recognize, behavioral remedies are generally less effective than structural remedies. So competition authorities are weighing proposals to break-up the platforms, or spin off parts of their businesses. The FTC’s and states’ antitrust cases against Facebook, for example, are seeking “divestiture of assets, divestiture or reconstruction of businesses (including, but not limited to, Instagram and/or WhatsApp).”
Tenth is cooperation. No agency can undertake this on its own. The privacy, consumer protection, and antitrust agencies around the globe must collaborate to develop a “common strategy” to rein in these data-opolies. We are already seeing greater convergence with the House Report relying on the findings of the EU, UK, and Australian authorities, and the work of the International Competition Network and OECD.
2020 was a horrible year on so many levels, but there are signs of hope for reinvigorating competition and returning the political and economic power from the data-polies to citizens and companies.
In contrast to the divisive partisanship in 2020 on so many issues, antitrust in 2020 was one area of bi-partisanship with thoughtful concerns raised on both sides of the Congressional aisle.
The antitrust complaints against Google and Facebook are not only well-pled but modern. The conventional concerns about monopolies are higher prices and lower output. But the Complaints consider the data-opolies’ impact on privacy and data collection. The Google Complaint also incorporates the insights of behavioral economics on the power of defaults.
In addition to the first significant monopolization cases – against Google and Facebook – in over 20 years, 2020 was also a year where the dangers of the platforms were effectively evoked through the highly popular Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, and numerous well-written books and articles on the economic, social, and political harms of these powerful platforms.
With strong intellectual leadership at DOJ Antitrust Division and FTC, there is a good chance of legislative reform during the Biden administration.
But change can also be effectuated from within these data-opolies. Neo-classical economic theory posits that individuals pursue their self-interest, namely wealth maximization. So one would expect that the data-opolies’ employees would all support political candidates who wouldn’t threaten their firms’ monopoly profits. After all, the greater the monopoly profits, the greater the likelihood that the employees would profit thereby. One wouldn’t expect many of the data-opolies’ employees to support politicians who vow to strengthen the antitrust laws, and certainly not politicians who promise to break up their companies.
But Google’s, Amazon’s, Facebook’s, and Apple’s employees financially supported in the 2020 presidential primaries two progressive Democratic candidates, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who promised to break them up.
Facebook employees donated $29,233 to Donald Trump in contrast to $248,672 to Bernie Sanders, and $89,304 to Elizabeth Warren.
Google same story. The top individual recipients, besides Joe Biden ($3,661,162), were Bernie Sanders ($989,682) and Elizabeth Warren ($701,658). Donald Trump, in contrast, received only $68,748.
Likewise, for Amazon, the top individual recipients in the 2020 elections were Joe Biden ($1,737,402), Bernie Sanders ($803,200), and Elizabeth Warren ($242,532). Donald Trump, in contrast, received $164,174.
The top individual recipients from Apple employees, besides Joe Biden ($1,398,859), were Bernie Sanders ($389,051) and Elizabeth Warren ($192,607). Donald Trump, in contrast, received $63,650.
One explanation is that Donald Trump is tougher on antitrust, with the Obama administration giving Big Tech a free pass (outside of collusion). After all, the FTC, during the Obama administration, overruled its legal staff, in not challenging Google’s anticompetitive practices. But during the presidential primaries, it was uncertain that the Trump administration would sue the data-opolies, and antitrust enforcement during the Trump administration was otherwise uneven and controversial.Moreover, for the past 40 years, Republican administrations, unlike the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations, have been tolerant of monopolies and their abuses. The Department of Justice, for example, brought only four monopolization cases during the entire twenty-year period of the Reagan, Bush Sr., and George W. Bush administrations.
So, what is going on here? It is unlikely that so many GAFA employees suffer from Stockholm Syndrome, in identifying with the goals of their oppressors.
Most of us desire purposeful work. One recent survey found a high correlation between well-being and purposeful work: “Whereas only 6% of those who have low levels of purpose in their work have high levels of overall wellbeing, fully 59% of those with high purpose in work have high wellbeing.”
But as some have observed of the dominant social network, “Facebook created a town hall for fighting.” Facebook built a machine to foster divisive, extreme positions to attract our attention and data. Not surprisingly, many Facebook employees are increasingly disillusioned, according to one internal survey:
Only 51% of respondents said they believed that Facebook was having a positive impact on the world, down 23 percentage points from the company’s last survey in May  and down 5.5 percentage points from the same period last year . In response to a question about the company’s leadership, only 56% of employees had a favorable response, compared to 76% in May  and more than 60% last year 
They too, as we see from the Facebook complaints, question the ethics of their employer’s actions. It must be hard to go home and feel good about bullying and destroying smaller rivals, having your platform be weaponized to destabilize democracies, and surveilling and manipulating individuals to maximize ad revenues. So, the workers may desire change for the betterment of their employers Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon and society.
Few would want to live in a dystopia, where we labor as data-serfs for the data-opolies. We would rather use our talents for the betterment of others, creating as Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter calls, shared value in providing “economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges.” We would prefer to compete in markets where the rules of the game are clear and fair and apply to all. We want to preserve opportunities for our children for meaningful, purposeful work.
So, we don’t have to live in a post-privacy plutocracy. But to emerge from this antitrust winter, we must continue to demand antitrust reform and enforcement, along with sufficient privacy protections.
 Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets, Majority Staff Report and Recommendations, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law of the Committee on the Judiciary (Oct. 2020), https://judiciary.house.gov/up… [hereinafter House Report].
 Compl. ¶ 22, United States v. Google, Case 1:20-cv-03010 (D.D.C. filed Oct. 20, 2020), https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr…[hereinafter Google Compl.]; see alsoid. at ¶ 35 (“Google has long recognized that without adequate scale its rivals cannot compete. Greater scale improves the quality of a general search engine’s algorithms, expands the audience reach of a search advertising business, and generates greater revenue and profits”).
 European Commission, Press Release, Antitrust: Commission Sends Statement of Objections to Amazon for the Use of Non-Public Independent Seller Data and Opens Second Investigation into Its E-Commerce Business Practices (10 November 2020), https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_2077.
 House Report at 187 & 191. As one Google employee internally acknowledged, “if Google ranked its own content according to the same criteria that it applied to competitors, ‘it will never rank.’” House Report at 190.
 Case AT.39740 — Google Search (Shopping), https://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=1_39740.
 European Commission, Press release, Antitrust: Commission Fines Google €2.42 Billion for Abusing Dominance as Search Engine by Giving Illegal Advantage to Own Comparison Shopping Service (27 June 2017), https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_17_1784.
 Greg Sterling, Nielsen: More Time On Internet Through Smartphones Than PCs, Marketing Land, Feb. 11, 2014 at 9:57 am, https://marketingland.com/nielsen-time-accessing-internet-smartphones-pcs-73683.
 Facebook Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, https://sec.report/Document/0001326801-20-000013/, at p. 11 (identifying the risk that “users adopt new technologies where our products may be displaced in favor of other products or services, or may not be featured or otherwise available”).
 FTC Facebook Compl. ¶ 8 (“Facebook’s leadership has learned and recognized that the sharpest competitive threats to Facebook Blue come not from ‘Facebook clones,’ but from differentiated services and during periods of transition”).
 Alexander G. Volkov et al., Venus Flytrap Biomechanics: Forces in the Dionaea Muscipula Trap, 170 Journal of Plant Physiology 25 (2013), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jplph.2012.08.009, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S017616171200332X.
See, e.g., Australian Government Response and Implementation Roadmap for the Digital Platforms Inquiry (12 December 2019), https://treasury.gov.au/publication/p2019-41708; the proposed EU ePrivacy Regulation. “Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and the protection of personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC; ACCC Final Report at 34-35 (recommend updating definition of personal information to capture potential online identifiers of individuals; strengthening privacy notifications and consent requirements with pro-consumer privacy defaults; enable the erasure of personal information; private causes of action for privacy violations; and higher penalties under the privacy statute).
 OECD, Big Data: Bringing Competition Policy to the Digital Era Executive Summary (26 April 2017), http://www.oecd.org/competition/big-data-bringing-competition-policy-to-the-digital-era.htm.
 European Commission, Press Release, Antitrust: Commission Consults Stakeholders on a Possible New Competition Tool, Brussels, 2 June 2020.
 European Commission, Press release, Antitrust: Commission Imposes Interim Measures on Broadcom in TV and Modem Chipset Markets, 16 October 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_19_6109.
 The UK, for example, can undertake market studies “using powers under section 5 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (EA02) which allows the CMA to obtain information and conduct research. They allow a wide consideration of issues affecting the market. They can include a range of outcomes including recommendations to government, enforcement action and referral for market investigation.” UK Competition and Markets Authority, Press Release: CMA Launches Immediate Review of Audit Sector, 9 October 2018, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-launches-immediate-review-of-audit-sector.
 CMA Final Report at ¶¶ 102-104; ACCC Final Report at 12.
 ACCC Final Report at 32 (codes of conduct on designated digital platforms to govern their relationships with news media businesses, “ensure that they treat news media businesses fairly, reasonably and transparently in their dealings with them, and provide commitments on the sharing of data with news media businesses, the early notification of changes to the ranking or display of news content, that the digital platform’s actions will not impede news media businesses’ opportunities to monetise their content appropriately on the digital platform’s sites or apps, or on the media businesses’ own sites or apps, and where the digital platform obtains value, directly or indirectly, from content produced by news media businesses, that the digital platform will fairly negotiate with news media businesses as to how that revenue should be shared, or how the news media businesses should be compensated”).
 FTC Facebook Compl. at p. 51; see also States Facebook Compl. at p. 75.
 OECD Consumer Data Rights and Competition, supra note, at ¶ 193 (quoting Wolfgang Kerber, “Digital markets, data, and privacy: competition law, consumer law and data protection”, Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, p. jpw150 (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jpw150; Common Understanding of G7 Competition Authorities on “Competition and the Digital Economy, Paris, 5th June 2019, http://www.autoritedelaconcurrence.fr/doc/g7_common_understanding.pdf(calling for the promotion of greater international cooperation and convergence).
 Brody Mullins, Rolfe Winkler and Brent Kendall, Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google, Wall St. J., March 19, 2015, https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-the-u-s-antitrust-probe-of-google-1426793274.