Towards a Competition Enabling Framework in Asia Pacific: Opportunities & Challenges – Regional Chapter

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REGIONAL Chapter Competition Law APAC

Below, we have provided the full transcript of the panel discussion, Effective Competition Frameworks: Enabling Competition and Innovation with a Global Mindset, from the final chapter of our series, Towards a Competition Enabling Framework in Asia Pacific: Opportunities & Challenges.

David EVANS Speaker

David EVANS:

Hello everyone. This is David Evans. I’m sitting here in Boston, Massachusetts at the moment, but we’re going to be talking today about the Asia-Pacific region. There’s a robust digital economy in the region. Western tech firms are very active in lots of places. Chinese tech giants are more active in Asia-Pacific outside of China than in the West. But there’s a lot of innovation by domestic and regional players. And there’s also a great diversity in the digital ecosystems across countries. India is very different than Japan, which is very different than Australia. Just like everywhere else in the world competition authorities and others are really thinking very hard about the right regulatory framework for the digital economy. And they’re doing that in a context in which market investigations and proposals are quite far along in Europe and to a lesser extent in the United States. And of course, China, the giant of the area has recently announced proposals or actually a framework for the digital economy.

In today’s session we’re going to be hearing the perspectives of people who are really in the trenches, who are working on these competition law and regulatory approaches for the digital economy and really across the region. The issues are tough, tech companies can grow very quickly across geographies, and they can achieve positions of CME dominance or an actual dominance. But in doing so, they can create tremendous value for consumers and the pace of innovation at least from my perspective, doesn’t really seem to be slowing. And I say that, globally, but also in particular for the Asia-Pacific region. So when we think about regulatory approaches, we always face the constant tension between designing regulations, that address real problems while preserving the benefits of innovation for consumers. And of course, everyone who is in this area understand that trade off and are struggling to figure out where exactly to draw various lines.

So that’s generally what we’re going to be discussing today. As I said, we have a incredible panel. So let me just briefly introduce them. I believe everyone has detailed biography. So I’m not going to go on and on about this esteem group, because it would take a long time. But just to quickly go through people. We have Markham Ericsson from Google. Markham is a lawyer. We have Geeta Gouri. She’s a former commissioner at the Competition Commission of India, and she’s an economist. We have Yong Lim, who’s a professor at Seoul National University. He’s a law professor there. Takako Onoki. She’s with White & Case in Tokyo, but also with the American Chamber of Commerce. She is a lawyer. Jeff Paine from the Asia Internet Coalition.

Jeff is an MBA with a very extensive business background. And we have Malavika Jayarama who’s with the Digital Asia Hub. That’s a think-tank. And she’s also a lawyer. And just in case anyone doesn’t know this, I am an economist. Although I have been teaching at law schools for many, many years. So with that, let’s kick this off. Geeta, I’m going to hit you with two questions, kind of related. Are there general principles you think regulators pretty much everywhere should apply when designing policies towards the digital economy? And just to kind of tie that to facts on the ground, thinking about the situation in India, how important are local conditions in designing sound regulations?

Geeta GOURI Speaker

Geeta GOURI:

Thanks a lot, David. It gives me great pleasure to be a panelist on this roundup session of APAC region. I’ve been a regulator in one of the electricity regulatory boards, before I became a market regulator. So to your first question I think there are certain general principles of regulatory practices and why I will speak   of them  from  my   experience as a regulator, is that these general principles regulators must know. I know you have stated it, but let me again emphasize: First , markets have their own logic. Regulators love to  play god in attempting  to reshape markets  and  is something we have to understand while designing competition enabling framework for a  digital economy  and  ;  the second general principle is that  digital markets especially are shaped largely by technology. And in this segment- the important aspect is to look at innovation. I bring up  these four  points  on  how a regulator looks at them in India; the third important point is that the consumer matters.  Who is the consumer? How do you define the consumer? and the final question and fourth point  is, how do we define welfare?

 I have brought up these points, I think are four general regulatory principles. In applying them what we have noted in India is that there is a tendency for differences in its applications. Do these general principles change or in their applications are some aspects emphasized more?

 Let me just spend a little time on the  aspect because of what happens when you are looking at the technology area and the emphasis is on innovation and consumer welfare and consumers.  What are the steps involved? In the Competition Commission, even in the proposed new act three steps are emphasized while assessing competition. And I think one should have four steps. Now the three steps they suggest is to look at dominance in terms of size, to look at dominance in terms of market share, and then look at abuse.

So there is a tendency to be very per se and the effects goes back.  I suggest that one should look at the whole process as a regulator. I’ve had a lot of dissent orders being issued including my difference in the first Google case was that you should look at innovation. And when you look at innovations, you have to look at innovations within local conditions. Now it’s not a question of looking at innovations in terms of the operating systems. It’s not a question of trying to see what happens. It is in terms of understanding what are innovations within India. And I think the most prominent development which is what I would like to draw your attention and of my colleagues within India is the mobile ecosystem. I don’t call it the inter-operating system, but that of the mobile operating system or the mobile economic system.

Can you believe we have about 1500 startups in this country entirely app based. We have apps for everything that you can think of. For food, for clothes, for health, for taxi, for hospitals. And it’s not something that is an app which would be only in cities like Delhi. These are apps that are being used in smaller cities. These are apps that are being used in rural areas. Of course the COVID has helped because now everything is on the apps and these apps are remarkable.

We have apps which can take care of everything. We have things like Truecaller, which will decide which calls can go through, which is also a platform. So when you have to look at competition, it is the question of innovation within the mobile ecosystem. I’m saying mobile because the cheap phone is very important. If you want to have a cheap phone which is the inter-operating system, you want to have something which is cheap and which can be used on a cheap phone. So I think the entire argument has to be in deciding whether India really wants to be a digital India and India which is very much up on the system. We have innovations, we have innovations in operating systems and we have innovations in apps. So it’s a sort of an ecosystem. And therefore when looks at the big five, the cases that come against them, it’s not the three steps that the commissioner invariably looked at.

The first important thing for a commissioner to look at is, has there been innovation in an industry. You can ask me further on what I mean about this innovation in the app set up.

EVANS:

Thank you very much, Geeta. That was a great way to kick us off. The story in India is really amazing with the rapid spread of 4G and the penetration of mobile phones. I personally think the digital economy. When we speak of the digital economy and think about where it is now in a lot of developed countries, but also where it’s moving in other parts of the world. It really is becoming almost coincidence with smartphones and mobile apps and so forth. That seems to be where things have gone.

So those are all very important points. Thank you for the comments and diving into your experience on regulation. Let me turn now to Yong. We’ve already touched on this a little bit with Geeta, but we have a lot of experience with both competition law and regulation, going back more than a century in various parts of the world. It’s not like we don’t know about those topics and its application to new technologies and so on. Do we have any learning on the value, the limits and the risks of these approaches that could inform how we think about new issues involving the digital economy?

Yong LIM Speaker

Yong LIM:

That’s a great question. I’d like to thank CPI for inviting me. I like the question because it asks that we go back a century to see if we can learn from the past. I think that’s important for Asian jurisdictions where agencies do not have a long history of enforcement. Even Korea, which is one of the more experienced countries in the region, is now approaching its 40th anniversary. And I think we’ve had about three decades or so of true enforcement of competition law.

I’d like to point out three major lessons that we can all learn, especially Asian jurisdictions, from the past when it comes to the digital economy and tech industry. The first lesson is that institutional design matters for competition policy. A lot of people think about substantive law, but actually institutional design of the agency and the authority may even be more critical to the success of policy than substantive law in some cases. So Asian jurisdictions should be willing to be flexible and fine tune their institutional design, perhaps even fostering institutional expertise not only in economic analysis but also technology and data analysis to meet the challenges raised by the digital economy.

I think another second important lesson is that it’s important to have a willingness to ascertain effects based on market and economic evidence – that evidence really matters and can result in better outcomes. We’ve all experienced blunt market structure based assumptions resulting in suboptimal outcomes, especially when it comes to fast-changing and innovative industries.

I think yet another really important lesson is that remedies matter. And remedies are perhaps the most under analyzed and yet one of the most important portions of regulatory action that can determine the success of a policy or intervention into the market. So it’s good to have economists and specialists that can substantively assess conduct, but I think it’s also important to have the personnel and resources invested for crafting really good remedies and monitoring compliance. I think one area, not only for Asia, but perhaps around the world where everyone should experiment and try to achieve regulatory innovation is rethinking and perhaps redesigning consent decrees and decree processes so that regulators can be both more aggressive and timely, and also nimble and more market oriented for the digital economy and the challenges it poses.

EVANS:

Well, I liked your point on remedies. That’s a topic that we’ve discussed quite a bit in the US. I mean, one of the problems is that people get a lot of credit for winning cases, including regulators, but no one actually gives a lot of credit to people who design great remedies, in part, because it takes a long time to figure out what a great remedy is. So there’s a little bit of an incentive problem there in coming up with great remedies. I’m curious about the situation in Korea. So a lot of countries now are talking about a separate digital regulator, either completely separate from the competition authority or a separate part of the competition authority. What’s the situation in Korea? Are things being left to the Korean Competition Commission, or is there some consideration of new laws and a new regulator?

LIM:

There have been discussions about creating a new centralized data agency, but I think the situation right now is that we’re having a competition among agencies. The Communications agency and others such as the Ministry of Science & ICT is also very active. We have all these different agencies coming up with new rules, regulations, and laws that try to target a particular problem involving digital platforms and the economy. Even the KFTC has become more active. It recently rolled out a new Transparency focused law for digital platforms. So right now it’s really a mixed situation where all the agencies are trying to get more resources and attention to have a greater say in how to regulate the digital economy. We’ll have to see how this all ends.

EVANS:

Is the KFTC taking a leadership role when it comes to thinking about a new framework for the digital economy?

LIM:

It definitely is. And I think it is naturally well-positioned to do so because when we talk about the digital economy, many people think “big tech” and dominance. So the KFTC definitely has a role to play and has become more active. There are investigations being carried out, and new decisions that have come out. The KFTC is also trying to enact new dominance guidelines related to platforms. So it will definitely play a bigger role going ahead.

EVANS:

Thank you. Takako, let me turn to you and get your thoughts based on your experience in Japan. In the last two years, as I understand it, there’ve been several government initiatives towards regulating the digital economy. So Japan seems pretty far along relative to many countries. Could you maybe give us a brief overview of what’s been going on in Japan? And I know it’s early still, it’s only been a couple of years, but whether there are any learnings that you’ve gotten from these initiatives in terms of what’s happened so far, how it’s worked and not worked?

Takako ONOKI Speaker

Takako ONOKI:

Sure. Thank you for this great opportunity. Let me briefly update about recent developments with regard to government initiatives and competition policies in the digital economy in Japan. First, in June, 2018, the government of Japan made a decision to make rules with regard to digital platforms. Accordingly three major government agencies, including the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, METI and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication joint. We set up a study group to discuss the current situation involving digital platforms. In December, 2018 those three agencies issued the basic principles. One of the items the basic principles indicate was that the government should conduct market researches to understand the reality of market situation. It also indicated that abuse of superior bargaining position would be one of the tools to regulate digital platforms. It also suggests reviewing and updating the merger review guidelines and policies in accordance with developments in digital economy.

As you know, the government agency in Japan in charge of competition policy and enforcement of antitrust law is the JFTC. With regard to competition policy in the digital economy, in addition to the JFTC, in September, 2019, the headquarters for digital market competition was established in the cabinet of Japan. Let me call it the digital headquarters. The major purpose of the digital headquarters is to discuss policies that promote competition and innovation in the digital economy from various perspectives, including antitrust law, innovation and personal data protection. Let me quickly introduce a couple of market research reports issued by the JFTC recently.

In October, 2019, the JFTC issued a market research report about online mall and app stores and identified some potential competition concerns. This year in April, the JFTC issued an interim report about digital advertisement. Separately, and interestingly, in June, the digital headquarters issued an interim report about this advertisement as well.

They continue conducting researches and aiming to publish final reports by spring. Lastly, let me mention about a new law. They act on improvement of transparency and fairness of specified digital platform was promulgated on June 3rd this year, and it will be effective within a year. Let me call it the transparency act. The transparency act was modeled after EU’s P2B regulation. The main purpose of the act is to secure transparency and fairness of transactions by digital platforms. Currently, it looks like online malls and app stores will be subject to the act, but not about digital advertisements. However, the digital headquarters’s currently discussing about digital advertisement. So we should keep eyes on the development. That’s my observation about the recent developments in Japan.

EVANS:

Well, thank you very much Takako. One question on the process in Japan, to what extent has the process been educated by what’s been happening in Europe or the United Kingdom? Have you looked much outside of Japan in terms of the approaches that other jurisdictions have taken, or has Japan sort of innovated on its own, given the particular situation and in Japan?

ONOKI:

I think it’s both. And the Japanese government is trying to do whatever is appropriate for the Japanese market and Japanese people. And at the same time, there are many things that we should, and we can learn from other jurisdictions, including the EU and UK. And I think the Japanese government is also watching the developments around the world. And the transparency act was modeled after years PTB Radiation. and I think that’s one of the examples that the Japanese government is learning from other jurisdiction.

EVANS:

One of the things that we’re going to want to get into later in the discussion, is the extent to which we’re moving… I’m just stating this so we can get back to it later. So it’s not a question right now. But one of the things we’re going to want get to, is the extent to which we’re likely to have some convergence across jurisdictions in part, because of each jurisdiction modeling and learning from other jurisdictions. Or whether we’re moving to a world in which there are substantive divergences across jurisdictions and what implication that’s going to have both for how jurisdictions interact with each other in the global digital economy, and the extent to which that causes issues for the digital platforms itself.

So I think the experience in Japan and Korea and India, all help inform that. And we going to talk a little bit later about those two issues. But for now, Jeff, let me turn it over to you. I like to step back just a little bit and get you to talk a little bit about the role that tech platform, digital economy platforms play in economic growth and innovation.

I’m curious your perspective on what’s been happening in the Asia Pacific region. I mean, we all know about Google search, and we all know about Facebook and so forth, but my sense is, there’s an awful lot going on that’s very exciting in the Asia Pacific region. And I’m curious whether you think that there’s a… you see a need for stronger or different approaches for dealing with anti competitive practices, given where you’re seeing the evolution of the digital economy going.

Jeff PAINE Speaker

Jeff PAINE:

Yes. Thank you very much, David, and great to be here. Thank you, CPI. So the Asia Internet Coalition, is an industry association. We represent 16 different technology companies. We focus a lot on policy and policy consultations in the Asia Pacific region. We cover all of Asia, so not just ASEAN, but also South Asia, North Asia, the full gambit.

It’s quite amazing with COVID-19, this has been the busiest year we’ve ever experienced because so many governments are looking at different policies, especially on taxation, because everyone’s got all these stimulus packages that they’re rolling out, but nobody has any money to pay for it. So what we’re seeing as a result is a lot of focus on digital taxation. Of course, digital companies are doing very well in this COVID-19 environment.

From a competition perspective, the latest news really is around the Grab and Gojek kind of potential merger. Many of you know Uber and Grab had merged a number of years ago, really consolidating their business in Southeast Asia and now Grab and Gojek are looking at potentially merging and that’s definitely going to hit some red flags on competition agencies in both Singapore, Indonesia and around the region.

EVANS:

Jeff, Jeff, just to make sure I have this right. This is Grab acquiring the assets of Uber in the region. Or is it-

PAINE:

Yes, that’s correct. So, that was a while ago. And then now both Grab and Gojek are potentially looking at acquisition or merger. It’s still to be determined, but that definitely is the latest kind of hot news as far as competition goes in Southeast Asia.

As I say though, this has been definitely the busiest year for the Asia Internet Coalition. If I look back in 2018, we did 18 formal policy consultations with governments, in 2019, we had 29, and this year we have over 70. So it’s been a very active space. And many of them are related to competition.

In 2019 and 2020, we’ve had a lot of competition related inquiries in India, Australia, and Singapore. So, yes. It’s definitely been a very active time.

Now the digital economy in Southeast Asia has tremendous potential. I mean the many companies around the world are very interested in ASEAN because of the fact that you have a very young population, a growing middle class, technology is becoming a lot more part of everyone’s life, especially during COVID. I mean, we’re all working from home, or learning from home, we’re getting health care from home. So definitely we’ve seen a big acceleration of technology adoption with COVID-19. But I do think that we’re seeing the digital economy having a much more impact in places like Vietnam and Thailand and Indonesia, where all the governments have very robust, ambitious goals for the digital economy and how they will leverage the digital economy to grow their own economy.

So what we try and do at AIC, is ensure that they come out with policies that don’t, inhibit that growth and inhibit that potential. And that’s sometimes the case. I mean, unfortunately, but there’s a lot of great potential here in Southeast Asia.

EVANS:

Is your membership skewed towards the large platforms, or do you have a diverse set of companies as part of the coalition?

PAINE:

We have a diverse set. It’s definitely become a lot more diverse. So AIC was founded in 2010. My team has been running it for the last four years, but we only had eight members back then, we have 16 now and we definitely have a lot more members from the region, which is great. So having members like Grab and Sea Group is a real big benefit to us for that local perspective. So yes, that’s been a big win for the AIC.

EVANS:

Thank you. Let me turn it over to you Markham. So Google obviously has a bird’s eye view, not just because you have a search engine, but you obviously have a bird’s eye view of what’s been happening in the region and really around the world. Not to mention being in the trenches just about everywhere since you’re the subject of a lot of the investigations and talk.

What I’m curious about is whether you’ve seen regulatory approaches that you think do a good job of protecting competition, consumers and innovation, that are making, what in your mind is the right trade off between those considerations, recognizing at least in my view that, it’s just the nature of companies that, they periodically do bad things and we need to have strong laws to make sure they don’t engage in anti-competitive behavior where we’re always facing these trade-offs. But I’m curious what your perspective is from Google in terms of who’s doing it well at this point.

Markham ERICKSON Speaker

Markham ERICKSON:

David, thanks for the question and to CPI for having me and to my esteemed colleagues. It’s nice to be with you. I appreciate the conversation. Look, new technologies create novel issues. We have to acknowledge that they are new issues to grapple with. There are questions, for example, around privacy protections that look different today than they did 10 years ago. For example, we’ve changed and updated our policy against medical misinformation relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because we were very concerned about potential harm to consumers from false statements about the impact of the virus or various mitigation proposals. That doesn’t mean of course, that every concern is a competition concern or should be addressed via competition tools. Of course, from a competition standpoint, David, I agree with what you said at the beginning, which the rule book has been pretty durable.

We have a century or so of learning and the key questions about market power and concerns about exploitative and exclusionary abuses are applicable to the tech sector as they have been to other sectors and have led to several cases and investigations. And as you rightly point out, including into Google’s business practices, and in some cases we have been forced to make significant changes to our business and in the EU, there’s been three cases, but we do see calls for regulations to be updated. I wouldn’t say that they’re uniform and the discussions in different regions are highly varied. I know we’ll talk later about regulatory asymmetry and fragmentation and what that may mean. But the key question in my mind is how should the rules be updated, will business decisions that in other industries are seen as pro competitive now be restricted for a handful of tech companies?

We’re seeing proposals in the EU that are very targeted just at defining ex-anti competition rules to a handful of actors. But competition regulators, look, they have to regulate a lot of disputes. It isn’t a new phenomenon to see business rivals or firms in the same supply chain file competition complaints to extract better commercial terms, which we see sometimes are more favorable treatment. But I do think we have to have a sensible yardstick to adjudicate these issues. And here I think a focus on maximizing economic output is probably the most sensible approach.

In a competitive market, there will always be companies that suffer quote unquote from legitimate competition. And that is the key thing that regulators need to grapple with, what defines a real problem, and how do you measure this accurately. In APAC, we’re seeing initiatives that are heading in the direction of a balanced approach, which fosters innovation and enables competition among market players and creates more choices and benefits to consumers. And I would refer to Japan’s PTB implementation guidelines, which are still in progress, but the government has been collaborating with market players and listening to their concerns and suggestions, and Google has supported this approach and we look forward to seeing industry suggestions reflected in the final report. I also think that governments-

EVANS:

If I could interject Markham, just get you to elaborate on that a little bit. So if you compare what’s going on in APAC, which of course is a diverse set of countries, with what’s happening in the European Union and also the UK, what is it about what’s going on in APAC that you see as being different from your perspective than what’s going on in the Western jurisdictions that have been pushing this for a while?

ERICKSON:

Yeah. I do think there seems to be a recognition in APAC that there is robust competition with multitude of players. Whether it’s in the App ecosystem or platforms, of course, in APAC we have some major Chinese players, I do and others that are certainly able to compete globally in APAC very rigorously. And I think in the EU, there hasn’t been that same sort of recognition of the diversity of the global ecosystem. And to some extent in other jurisdictions. And to focus on looking at US firms at the exclusion of sort of the larger global landscape. And it may be because David, as you rightly point out, the Chinese players are very effective in APAC. And so that may be one recognition, one reason why in the APAC jurisdiction, there’s, less of a focus on US firms in particular.

EVANS:

Thank you, Markham. And I think I interrupted your train of there. I don’t know if there was anything else that you wanted to add at this point.

ERICKSON:

Well, just to wrap that point out, I do think in terms of where I’m seeing various regulators go in terms of regulation. There’s a lot of disagreement about the scope, scale and subject matter that regulators may have with regards to digital firms. I think there is a coalescence around certain principles. And one of those seems to be around transparency and accountability. And rather than looking at outputs and results, looking at processes to ensure that companies are competing the way they say they’re competing and treating consumers fairly relative to their own principles.

So that was the last point that I’d make. It’s a complicated issue though. And I think we have to be careful about preserving what makes the technology and the internet ecosystem so great, which is largely innovation without permission. And look at unintentional implications while at the same time grappling with certainly some novel issues that have arisen due to the digital economy.

EVANS:

Thank you very much Markham. I’d like to turn it over now to Malavika. As I was saying a few minutes ago, I think you weren’t with us at the time. We’ve had a lot of conversation really about competition law issues and what characterizes more industrial regulation type issues. But modern competition law tends to focus very much on narrow markets, focuses on prices and focuses on consumers. Do you see broader societal challenges that we need to be concerned with and thinking about laws and regulations for the digital economy? And related to that, how if at all, are those being dealt with in the approaches you’ve seen in the region? So I’m turning to you to maybe take us a little bit outside of the normal box of competition law type issues.

Malavika JAYARAM Speaker

Malavika JAYARAM:

Sure. Can you hear me David?

EVANS:

I can hear you perfectly.

JAYARAM:

Yes. Okay. Okay, great. Thank you.

EVANS:

And I can see you perfectly.

JAYARAM:

Okay, good. That helps. I mean, I would think that the first thing that we really need in this space is to actually work across disciplines. I’m not a competition lawyer and the fact that I’m on a panel like this is I think interesting because if we don’t have people from diverse disciplines and regions actually try and tackle some of these societal challenges, I don’t think we’ll really get anywhere. We don’t look at users and all that diversity. We don’t look at issues in all of their complexity and nuance. And I think if we were to sort of telescope out and look at the broader societal challenges, I think we do want to look at rights and access and opportunities as aspects of competition.

I think instead of competing only along the axes of innovation, price, access, I think areas that we historically have thought of as compliance burdens, I think they’re actually great spaces to compete in, right? Like companies like Apple, and I don’t single them out as being unique in this space, but companies like Apple have tried to historically set a precedent. We’re saying you can compete on things like privacy and actually still charge a good price and still have access to users. Right?

So instead of seeing privacy and security issues as a space that’s actually affecting the bottom line and is something that’s terrible and only lawyers can get excited about, I think if you actually see societal issues as spaces for healthy innovation and competition, I think that’s actually really useful in the long-term and for a very wide user base.

I think another thing we’re seeing in Asia is, we have a lot of areas where we look at things in binaries. We think you can have innovation or privacy. You can have innovation or security. You can collect data, or you can be privacy conscious. And I think those binaries are incredibly challenging and they don’t present the entire picture. I think there are ways you can optimize for all of them. If you want to use computer scientists speak, you don’t have to make the trade-offs that we’ve had to in the past, you can have privacy conscious ways to actually address a lot of issues. And when it comes to things like hate speech, when it comes to misogyny on platforms, they’re not issues that lend themselves solely to a price solution or taxation or incentive kind of approach. I think the things that you need to solve in addition to everything else that you’re doing to stay innovative.

I think those are not nice to haves, they’re actually essential. And I think if you bake them into the design of platforms, if you actually make them part of your business case, we’ve seen, all the big companies have shown that having diversity in the workplace, isn’t just a nice box to check on a human rights framework or on some kind of ranking digital rights’ index. It actually provides a healthier working environment, less attrition, more profits. It actually helps the bottom line. So I think looking at societal issues only as a nice to have, once you’re competitive on every other axis, I think that’s something that really needs to change. And I really look forward to that happening.

EVANS:

Thank you very much. That’s a great perspective for us to have, and we should roll it into the rest of the conversation today. I mean, it brings to mind, the following thing that I’ve been thinking about and, maybe I could get everyone’s reaction to this. When I look at all the proposals that are being made around the world with regard to the digital economy, I’m struck at the diversity of the issues that people are raising. And as I think about the digital economy and maybe this is just me sitting in a particular place in the world. But when I think about the digital economy, I basically see the world, which is currently this divide between a digital economy and a physical economy, essentially becoming and essentially all digital economy.

We’re going to have the penetration of 5G, we’ve already seen through the pandemic, an awful lot of aspects of our lives being taken over by digital solutions, lots of innovation almost in every part of what we used to call the physical economy. And that seems like it’s going to be a process, that’s going to take place really over the next few decades.

So that we’re going to end up in a place where, when we talk about the digital economy, we’re basically talking about the economy. And not surprisingly, when we talk about all the issues Malavika that you’ve raised and we’ve heard so far, a lot of them are key. We have this new set of technologies and this new set of issues. And do we need changes generally in laws and regulations to deal with them. So I guess I like to get some reaction as to whether you see things in the same way but also how we channel revisions of laws and regulation in a way that isn’t just focused on the moment on the particular big tech platforms that we have today, but on the general set of issues that we’re going to really face in the economy going forward. Maybe Google and Facebook are going to be where they are 20, 30 years ago, but maybe they won’t be. Maybe there’ll be someone else. Maybe there’ll be other changes and so forth. How do we deal with that dynamic and sort of the future of this area? So, that’s a bunch of rambling thoughts but if anyone has any reaction to that, I love to hear it.

GOURI:

Can I come in David?

EVANS:

Absolutely.

GOURI:

I’ve listened to all the arguments and I was studying them all.  The point that you have made is that we have been just looking at the platform markets. Most of the laws in India, the Competition Act, and the suggestions that are coming up in the Competition Law Review Committee, I can state  has been formalized in what I call as a traditional or a classical product market economics in this entire f obsession with size, trying to see where it’s anti-competitive and dominant.  Now we have started talking about platform markets and the fact that the platform markets are different and has two sides. One has to think further ahead. And I feel that not just competition authority, but all economists and all lawyers have to look at four market formats.

There is the traditional product market in which we all studied at economics and our law. You have your platform markets, which is now coming into focus only because the players are large and bigger than network effects. But you also have what is known as data markets. And data markets are not platform markets, data markets could be large they could also be small. And this becomes important for a country like India given the kind of data we have. I’m not bothered about the data that is continuously emphasized with Google picking up data on consumer preferences. Not the Indian consumer, we are wacky? Just because someone in Europe likes something, the person may not like it in India. But what I’m talking about data markets is health, not just health, but things like child welfare. You know we are so diverse and this is a data market and mixture of data markets can evolve.

The last one, which I would like to mention the last market is what I call as the market of ideas.  When we have these four markets, it’s not just competition alone it’s a question of government macro policies and there are other regulators. You see, we  have in India, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ( TRAI).   TRAI would be looking at those who are getting the spectrum,  who’s bargaining for it,  then you have Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which looks at shares in the share market.  the Arbitration  Commission and a lot of cases are coming up, which are not pure competition issues, which the competition commission could look at, but it’s not looking at it. A point that is important is that when we have these four  markets coming up and you have different regulators, my concern now is

 that even if the Indian Competition Act has been modeled after the European law, the Indian consumer and the Indian conditions are different. So the Google cases, which is what I wanted to point out to Markham, the ones that are filed in India are essentially what got filed in Europe which means that you can’t  look at it in that sense at all. In this process there has also been a tendency for the government to follow policies for what they call as national champions for having digital protectionism. About 30 years ago, we had market protectionism. We didn’t have an open market, but in a digital economy and where we are so savvy with technology and we are so diverse, and that’s why I brought all the four markets into it, because the digital economic system or the digital ecosystem, the mobile ecosystem covers all of the four markets.

In all the four markets the competition commission has to come in. So perhaps later on, when I talk about some of the areas in which emphasis has to come in terms of exclusion or exploitative principles, there has to be a change. Because the change will be with respect to which market you’re looking at. And platform markets is only the beginning of getting into data markets, getting into privacy, getting into patent’s, especially standard essential patents. I mean, I don’t know if I have been able to convey a regulator’s concern over the dynamism of this kind of ecosystem that has emerged with digitalization and digital markets.

EVANS:

As I look at India, it’s just remarkable what’s happened in India just over the last five years in the dynamism of innovation in India. It’s really been quite remarkable. Does anyone else want to jump in on this topic or react to Geeta or what I said or anything else?

ERICKSON:

David, I’d probably say if I may, I think your point is a very important one here. Every time there’s been new technologies, there’s been a question of whether the laws need to be updated, paradigms need to be updated. You mentioned that my training is as a lawyer and I remember reading an article about the development of the horse and buggy and a conversation and debate about whether there need to be horse and buggy laws. And 20 years ago, there was concerned that Microsoft showed that antitrust laws were not able to be nimble enough to keep up with the pace of technology. And you may remember there was the bipartisan in the United States, antitrust modernization commission that really looked at that and determined that, that the laws were sufficient.

I think what we’re seeing now, there is a bit of techno nationalism that is in play, which I think certainly confuses the issue from a matter of pure law, pure economics. I think we have to remember that, I’d point out that we’re on zoom, not a Google communication platform and a little over a year ago, zoom had 10 million subscribers or users. They now have over 200 million users. So I think it’s very hard to have moats in this space. That technology moves pretty quickly. We certainly feel that competition.

EVANS:

Although the other side of that is that competition moves quite quickly. But one of the things about the digital economy is the nature of the digital economy is it wants to be global. Because it is easy to spread these platforms out of any particular geography, out of Delhi and around the world, out of Mountain View and around the world and so forth. We have this new situation, which we really haven’t had before Markham, where you have the ability to start one of these companies and have it become dominant in so many different parts of the world, which I think raises two issues. I know I’m digressing here, but maybe this will take us somewhere.

Hey, it raises two issues. I mean, one is your raises is a concern that global platforms are going to become dominant around the world, and that poses a concern for particular countries. But on the flip side, we have a situation that I think is a bit different than what we’ve had before, which is you have many jurisdictions that are trying to regulate the same company because they are global. And it seems to me that the tension between those two things causes a lot of difficulties that we somehow need to grapple with.

ERICKSON:

Please Geeta, after you.

GOURI:

Mark, the only point I want to mention; competition is very fast, but are the regulators equally fast.

EVANS:

So let me pick up on that, Geeta. So Markham mentioned the Microsoft case, and this is a problem with competition law in the US and I suspect in other places as well. So the Microsoft case was unusual. I was involved in the Microsoft case. We got the complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice. I was working for Microsoft. We got the complaint from the U.S. Department of Justice in may 1998. We were in trial before a judge in November of 1998. We had a decision from the court, and I think it was something like June of 1999. And we had a complete resolution of the case in 2001, it moved very, very quickly.

Most cases that I’m involved in, in the US they go on for decades, I’m exaggerating. They don’t go on for decades, but they can easily go on for five, 10, 15 years before you have a resolution. And to a significant extent, you have the same situation in Europe and other parts of the world. So at least from my perspective friend, I trust one of the issues is that the system has been designed in a way that it, it allows for a lot of factual investigation, but it does not seem Markham to really move very, very quickly. And I’m not sure that’s ultimately to the benefit of anyone including the tech platforms.

ERICKSON:

Yeah, David, it’s a good point. I think that’s why we’re seeing some jurisdictions in the EU, the exploration of ex-ante rules on the front end to try to deal with the factor that the ex-post system can be slow and clunky. I’ve seen cases move quickly as well. I think the challenge with the ex-ante rules is to grapple with what rules instance, if it’s a list of these are the things you may do and these are the things you may not and rules around vertical integration, it really has the potential to create inefficiencies for consumers. If you say Google is in search and it should not be in another vertical, then you may have inefficiency.

So when someone searches on Google for a particular business, we may show a map because we may infer that the user is actually seeking to know where a business is rather than a list of businesses in that category. That, of course we get complaints potentially from businesses in that category that say, we’ve been demoted, you’ve put a map your own product ahead of ours. Well, it’s because in that particular situation, we think the consumer benefits. So I think your point is the right point. It’s how to create that balance is very, very, very tricky. And I think some degree of humility not only in the part of governments but on companies and how we approach this is necessary.

EVANS:

Let me try to get Yong into the conversation here. So there’s a trade-off between using a law-based approach and using a regulatory approach. That’s even more true in common law countries where there’s flexibility in the law. But where do you see the trade-offs between an approach that is more based on competition law or other legislative solutions that are enforced within the court system versus ex-ante or other forms of regulation? Where do you see the balance being and the trade-offs being?

LIM:

Well, actually I think the verdict is still out. I really agree with what Markham said – that dissatisfaction with the pace of antitrust enforcement has led to more interest in ex-ante rules. I think another factor that has contributed to that is not only the pace itself, but also the outcomes. This goes back to what you said earlier, that when we talk about digital platforms, the platform economy and digital markets, we’re actually talking about a whole host of issues. Even when competition law intervenes, at the end nobody is really satisfied because there is a limit to what competition law can do, and competition is often only part of the problem. So we end up having people say, “okay, this doesn’t work” – in Europe – “we’ve tried going after Google and all of these other cases, and now we’re going to go down the ex-ante rule approach and see what happens.”

There are trade-offs. But I would actually try to spin this in a more positive way. Markham is right. There definitely is uncertainty now. And I think that uncertainty also fuels fear in the market or some uneasiness among consumers and the public. And so you have knee-jerk reactions by politicians trying to show people that they’re doing something. What I would say though is that you can think ex ante initiatives as experimenting. We’re trying to find the right mix of ex ante and ex post enforcement of what rules, what regulatory objectives, what regulatory agencies and how to mix it all together. Do we want a super agency for digital markets or do we want different agencies coordinating with each other? How are we going to do that?

So we’re in the experimental stage. And in that sense, I think it’s great to have different jurisdictions trying different approaches. I think everybody should be open, mindful that everybody has different objectives, different national interests, different market situations, and try to find out the right way. I think everybody should be modest, and in that sense, should be careful of extraterritorial application. I see a tendency of major jurisdictions trying to do that. I think everybody should let things percolate a bit and see what is the best or better options out there, and then go from there.

EVANS:

Although, one of the difficulties with regulation is once you adopt regulation or once you adopt laws, it’s not so easy to go back. So I agree with the experimentation and different countries can look at the experience of other countries and see how things worked out. But isn’t there a sort of a path dependence issue here which is, once you go down one road, it’s not so easy to try something else.

LIM:

Right. And that’s why I talked about thinking more about consent decrees and – like approaches where you don’t have to put down your foot right away, but think about better solutions and remedies, and then perhaps reflect what that means for substantive law as well. And so again, I think we have to really try hard to come up with good regulations, good examples, and good investigations, and really be open at this time.

EVANS:

So let, let me bring others into the conversation here. Anyone who wants to speak to just kind of raise their hand or just jump in. But Takako, I don’t know whether you have any reactions to what you’ve heard so far, anything you want to chime in on. So let me give you the opportunity to speak.

ONOKI:

Thank you. I totally agree with Yong. And I was listening his overview and I think for the government they understand the importance of innovation and competition. And I think all agree that it’s important to have innovation and the competition. And the issue is how to balance those and how to promote both. And to do so, I totally agree that the government should understand the reality and that’s what the Japanese government and probably other government are doing. So that’s my observation. Thank you.

EVANS:

Okay. Thank you. Jeff?

PAINE:

Yes. Markham’s point about techno nationalism rings a very loud bell in Southeast Asia. Definitely have never seen a bigger nationalist push. I lived in Asia for 23 years. Definitely, they’re very strong, whether it be the whole US, Huawei, ZTE, kind of stuff. But we’ve definitely seen that. And definitely around policy-making in areas around data localization, data privacy, cybersecurity, we’ve definitely seen a lot of activity over the last two years and also content. I think that Malavika mentioned content.

We’ve had places like in Pakistan, for example, they have very strict online harm rules and things like that have been at the forefront of policymakers for the last year. So we’ve definitely been busy. There’s no doubt about that. But I do think that the whole nationalist push is something that we are against because we promote cross border data flows as being a very important part of AIC. A lot of the other things that have become common components of policies are we want you to have a local office. That is not necessarily possible for companies that operate with 200 countries around the world. So we’ve seen a lot of those common themes along different kinds of regulations in Southeast Asia. So yes, the nationalism push is definitely alive and kicking in Asia.

EVANS:

And how do you think is going to get resolved?

PAINE:

David, I wish I had the answer to that question. I mean, we keep on fighting. At the end of the day, I mean, what we try and do as AIC is promote the economic benefits of digital platforms and digital technology. As I had mentioned before, we have a very young population in Asia, a growing middle-class, there’s a lot of opportunities there. And I think that leapfrogging technologies is going to be a big win for Asia and we just keep fighting the fight.

EVANS:

So let me press you on that a little bit. So how do you respond to governments that say, “Well, wait a second look at China.” China did a bunch of things that made it difficult for a global players to operate in China and look where they are. They have Alibaba and they have Alipay and they have Tencent and Baidu. And some of these companies in China, you could argue that in some cases, maybe they’re maybe not at par, but others Alibaba and Tencent and a number of others in particular have been highly innovative. They’re they’re spreading their wings in other parts of the Asia Pacific. How do you respond to the argument? Well look, the Chinese did it and look what they got. Don’t we want that too.

PAINE:

Well, I mean, when you look at China, it is a very big market. And if you look at most of the people that work in Singapore, as an example, if they have regional remit for covering Asia, sometimes it doesn’t include China. And I think that many businesses consider China as a separate business unit. China has got a massive market. It’s like India as well. I think that the numbers matter, I mean, look at Indonesia, it’s a very popular market for a lot of companies. And the reason why is they have a massive population they’re very young and they’re growing middle-class. So I do think that size matters, but you’re right though. I mean, the Chinese companies have been very aggressive in Southeast Asia. If I look at Singapore, we have Lazada, which is owned by Alibaba. Anything online is actually doing very well in this economy. But yes, the Chinese are very aggressive in Southeast Asia. One of the key differences with the Chinese companies is when they send Jack Ma around and he has the ability to make investment decisions. So he goes down to Indonesia or Malaysia and says, “Hey, I want to help build e-commerce in your country.” He also has the ability to say, “I can sign a check and invest in infrastructure” And things like that. So, that it’s a bit of a different approach, but I do think size matters with respect to China, India, and Indonesia as well.

EVANS:

Well, Malavika, let me bring you into the conversation again. So if you think about the real priorities from your standpoint and what we should be thinking about for the digital economy going forward, what is it? I feel like that you’re not going to say that the biggest issue is market dominance, but as we think about the next 10, 20 years with more of the digital economy, what do you really see as the big issues that need to be addressed and maybe the ones that aren’t really at the forefront right now?

JAYARAM:

Whatever question you’d asked my answer would have been equality. I think that’s going to be immensely huge in this space. It’s the thing that languages.

EVANS:

By equality, you mean what?

JAYARAM:

I mean… I think equality is one of the biggest issues facing the world, which is why I think that answer would have just been a one size fits all. But in this specific domain and to your question, inequality will be really massive in this space. It will dictate whether we allow rampant consumerism to carry on the way it has. It will dictate how we see issues around inclusion. It will look, it will require a certain interoperability, certain collaboration and cooperative ways of looking at fixing problems. So, that’s an access around which a lot of solutions will be formulated. But I also think on a much more prosaic level, we do need a lot of data that’s local. I mean research and scholarship in this area, because often the really clever they’re really far reaching arguments that are ahead of the curve, usually come to the region from somewhere else.

And then you always have a regulator or a commission say, well, actually, that’s great. It works in Mountain View, it doesn’t work in Chennai, it doesn’t work in Jakarta. And we really need a lot more independent academics and scholars doing empirical research around. How do you view platforms? How do you look at the data economy? What are the different kinds of business models? What are their externalities? What are the ways they affect different demographics? How do they affect marginalized populations? Do we even have a common definition of what a platform is? Do we think about impact in the same way? What are the costs and the barriers to access? Having very local lenses on these issues is something that can only help move the conversation and the decision-making. I live in Singapore as it sounds like many people on the panel do, and you can move for hearing the word regulatory sandbox and you hear it more in the Fintech space.

But I wonder if there are other areas where again, to deal with this sort of pace issue and the lack of solutions that keep track with innovation. I wonder if there are more innovative ways to use the idea of a regulatory sandbox, where you have a particular small space where you allow innovation to take place. It’s your… The Silicon Valley beta testing model, but not just in terms of platforms, but also in terms of regulatory fixes. So, those are some of the things that I feel would be really interesting in this space. And we’re also going to be seeing a lot more public-private collaborations. We’ve historically thought that they have completely divergent aims and different values and motivations. But if you want to tackle some of the biggest societal issues, like the ones I mentioned, you’re going to see a lot more public-private collaborations that are really interesting.

I’ll give you one example. We worked with UNESCAP and Google to look at how artificial intelligence was being deployed in the public sector. It was super interesting because in a lot of Asia you have historic negative connotations when you see a government trying to tackle any technological solution you assume they’re dinosaurs, they’re Luddites, they have no idea what they’re doing. So on one hand you’re suspicious of government. But on the other hand, you’re also suspicious of private corporations that have a profit motive. But I think when it comes to the impact of algorithmic bias for example, there are areas where both companies have an interest in achieving better signal to noise and having their data modeling be more accurate, have the solutions be better. And at the same time, governments need to ensure they have certain safeguards and checks and balances.

So, something around ensuring that bias is kept out of systems. You can actually have a shared converged interest in. And you can see really interesting ways that the public and private sectors can collaborate in deploying solutions. When you have academics involved in actually documenting the lessons learned, what could be fixed, what went wrong. That’s a really healthy interesting space where again to get us pointed but the marketplace for ideas, I think we worry too much about narrow market definitions and not enough about narrow minds. If we actually open up the spectrum to see what works, what doesn’t, and I have a funny one to say this, because typically middle-aged is when your narrow waist and broad-mind swap places. But when it comes to solving big societal issues, I don’t think anything is off the table. You’ll have to try and tweak and iterate and experiment with a lot of different models. Often in real-time provided you have the right legal frameworks and guardrails to ensure that nobody gets seriously harmed.

EVANS:

Well, you know what, one of the things that we totally outside of the tech platforms that we’re talking about today, but one of the things we’ve seen in the last year is how that really the partnership between the private sector and governments around the world has enabled us to get a vaccine for COVID-19 in an extraordinarily short part of time. Built both on things that the private sector has done, but also long-term investments by government in research and now really driving the process forward. So, if you want an example of how governments and the private sector can work together in ways that are socially beneficial, to my mind that’s probably one of the best example that we have at the moment.

JAYARAM:

I think we have to think out of the box as well. I mean, you’ll have all kinds of unholy coalitions in this space. I remember when I was a budding privacy lawyer, and I first went to the US, I was really surprised that you had very strange bedfellows, like the NRA being very interested in privacy rights. You wouldn’t think they were people who particularly cared about those kinds of civil liberties but they do because they don’t want gun ownership to be documented. So, they have a privacy interest in keeping their guns out of anybody else’s business. And so you could actually form campaigns with the NRA where they protested against invasive privacy practices, purely out of self-interest. So, I think you’re going to find all kinds of interesting and weird, unholy alliances in this space, if you’re willing to sort of broaden your mind.

EVANS:

Well, I certainly agree that constructive cooperation and interaction among everyone in this space is very important and what’s not really helpful is demonization of either side. Malavika let me toss out another question, which is more deep in the weeds, regulation question. Two of the well-known problems that we have with regulation. And we’ve seen this again over a century of learning, is that regulators tend to get captured by the regulated industry and that whether by design or not, there’s a tendency for regulation to lead to entry barriers.

EVANS:

I mean, do you see that as a problem with digital platform regulation? Talking generally to the panel. And if so, how do we guard against it? There’s obviously a lot of lobbying going on in this space. There obviously are going to be regulators in different parts of the world. I mean, how do we guard against a situation where some of the existing players in effect captured the regulators and skew things in ways that are long-term harmful to the innovation? Or is this just a problem that I’m making up and you don’t think is real? I don’t know whether anyone wants to jump into that, Geeta? Maybe?

GOURI:

Yeah. You know, David, as I said, right in the beginning, my biggest worry has always been that regulators think they’re playing god and I don’t know why. And maybe, I thought when I left the Electricity Regulation and came into the Competition Commission, we wouldn’t have such illusions.   Malavika has made some very relevant points. You see, the regulator wants to intervene where it’s not required. And more important thing is I don’t think one should come out with any ex ante rule. Because that’s why the four principles I stated is, that the regulators are not a god. The market has its own logic. Technology has its own logic. And why don’t we leave for consumers to decide what they want to, because the argument which took place in India on the Google search was that the consumer would be influenced by the ranking in terms of what is high up in terms of Google search.

But the Indian consumer, only goes on what is cheap. Therefore, there’s a question of technology and there’s the question of the consumer sustainability. And the regulator has to accept that, when should he intervene?

And I’m glad you raised the point of barriers to entry. What could be the possible barriers to entry that could come up? Is it in terms of barriers to entry of looking at exclusionary principle? Or is it looking at exploitative principles? And if you have to go about it, then it is very important that the most important area of anti-competitive practices which also has to apply for abuse of dominance, is that in the area of contracts. You have to look at it in terms of markets and what are the kind of contracts and what are parity principles, which is what the Competition Commission study was trying to look at it in e-commerce. What are the sorts of level playing field between big players and small players? Strangely, this is what we are having in terms of our agriculture bill also.

And what is the recourse? What recourse would a small consumer or even a small player or a small competitor who’s coming up with the new technology have in terms of a dispute resolution mechanism? Would that be where the CCI should probe? Do we (CCI) look at contracts again? Do we look at pricing principles again? I just want to bring these issues up, because the regulator has to know when to intervene, how much to intervene and where to intervene. And I think perhaps my concern is that the nuances would be very specific to the country. It cannot be taken either from the European Union or the DoJ. Those are only insights specific forms of possible regulatory interventions.

EVANS:

Thank you very much Geeta. I’m going to… This has been a fantastic discussion. I’m going to say that Geeta you’ve had your last word. I’m going to turn to the rest of the panel-

GOURI:

The regulator, did I stop you?

EVANS:

No, no. Well, I’m going to turn to the rest of the panel.

GOURI:

Please do.

EVANS:

Get a just a couple of short closing thoughts. Takako maybe I’ll start with you and then randomly go around everyone else. So, any final thoughts?

ONOKI:

Sure. It was very random, but anyway, as my closing remarks. I think innovation and competition are very important, and I hope the government, including the government of Japan should carefree rebuilt their reality and think about what would be appropriate for… To promote innovation and competition. I think we can learn from each other from other dress section and we hope, I hope that it will happen. And that’s my closing remarks.

EVANS:

Thank you so much, Jeff. Jeff, you’re on mute.

PAINE:

I do think that the economic impact that technology and platforms are having all across Southeast Asia, South Asia are tremendous. At the AIC, what we try and do is work with governments, to try and advise them on policies that are going to help them benefit from the economic potential of technology. And then also maintain somewhat a level of control in that. So, we try and promote policies that are not going to be overly burdensome to technology or stifle innovation. So, it’s been great to be part of this conversation and thank you all very much. That’s it for me.

EVANS:

Malavika, I have a feeling that I put the pronunciation of your name, and if I have, my apologies for that.

JAYARAM:

Oh no. It was good.

EVANS:

So, some thoughts.

JAYARAM:

One of the biggest lessons for me from the Free Basics debacle in India was that you can’t be paternalistic towards users and not expect a backlash. This idea that a walled garden is okay for poor people because they don’t know any better. That exploded very badly. This idea that poor people will be fine with Wikipedia, but don’t want to watch porn. That’s ridiculous. So, less paternalism and more openness and freedom in this space would be great. We spend a lot of time talking about antitrust and not enough talking about building trust. So, if we could actually look at ways that you can incentivize for people to trust platforms and for platforms to trust the users that they’re dealing with, whether it comes to authentication or integrity or the validity of what people are reading and where it comes from. That could do a lot to actually shape healthy platforms, which could also solve for some of the societal goals that I mentioned. So, more trust less antitrust.

EVANS:

So, I think unfortunately antitrust will always get more clicks than building trust, Markham.

ERICKSON:

Thanks, David. It’s been good to be with everyone. I guess just a partying point here is I think the North Star here for governments ought to be consumer welfare and consumer benefit and a protection of the competitive process for sure which would mean that consumers will benefit from that. And I think to your point David about techo-nationalism , that may be good in some cases for a particular government or for particular industries in that government. It’s not always good for consumers. In other words, they’re not always getting, excuse me, the best outcomes without more robust competition. So, a North Star on consumer, consumer welfare is important and I’m beginning to get a cough in my throat, so I’ll end there David.

EVANS:

Thank you Markham. I hope you’re feeling well and it’s just you need another cup of coffee or something that’s-

ERICKSON:

Indeed, it’s just a glass of water, nothing than a glass of water won’t solve.

EVANS:

So it sounds good. Yong could you finish this out?

LIM:

Sure. I would like to spend my few last minutes tying in what you asked as the final question about regulatory capture. As you said David, when we talk about the “digital economy,” we’re talking about the “economy.” When we talk about platforms, we’re talking about the whole universe of industries. So there’s less of a risk of regulatory capture because it’s not specialized and there are different interests and different parties all together in the same sphere. Now to the point that I’d like to make as a final parting issue is the concern and cost of cumulative regulation. We’re looking at regulation regarding platforms over a host of issues. So we have multiple agencies, multiple objectives, overlapping authority, presumably over similar firms.

This creates tension. And just because one regulation on a particular issue or view makes sense, doesn’t mean that when you combine all of these regulations that the whole will make sense or be optimal. So there is a fallacy of composition problem. I think that’s one thing that we really have to be careful and mindful of as we go ahead and try to do a better job regulating in this sphere.

EVANS:

Well, thank you very much. This has been really just an incredible panel. If I were better at Zoom, I’m sure there’s a clap feature on it that would allow us to have a round of applause for this great discussion. But I really appreciate all of you joining today and thanks to your, any young kids and dogs and other creatures who’ve all been extraordinarily well behaved in the last 90 minutes. So, thanks to them as well. So, everyone have a great evening I know it’s bedtime for some of you, but thanks again for joining today and thanks very much to CPI and to the CPI team for putting this together.

LIM:

Thanks David.

GOURI:

Thank you David. Thanks all persons, bye.

ONOKI:

Thank you.

ERICKSON:

Thank you.

PAINE:

Thank you everyone, take care.