Antitrust, Big Tech, and Democracy: A Research Agenda

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


In the twenty-first century, voter choice and the broader political debate are within the reach of those that can access and channel the vast streams of user data that are generated online. How digital platforms utilize personal user data to influence the outcome of democratic processes has become a central issue that liberal democracies must confront. The paper explores whether competition law has a role to play when it comes to addressing this intersection of Big Tech, data, and democracy. It first sets out the democratic roots of competition or antitrust law in the United States and the European Union. From these, the paper deduces that competition law cannot remain inactive when it comes to maintaining a democratic society in the face of the abilities of Big Tech to influence democratic processes and outcomes. The paper then goes a step further and asks what role competition law could play in this regard. Should democratic values simply be reflected in the procedural set-up of antitrust law, or is there a role for democratic values in the substantive provisions as well? And if so, does antitrust law’s focus on keeping market power in check suffice to fulfill its role in a democratic society, or does this role require the law to specifically target antidemocratic market behavior as anticompetitive harm? In navigating these questions, the paper contributes to the ongoing debate on political antitrust and sets out an ambitious research agenda on how to carry this discussion forward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259 - 279
JournalAntitrust Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 505003 European law
  • 505043 Competition and antitrust law
  • 505017 Comparative law
  • 505030 Commercial law

Cite this