LTP News Sharing:

In the latest RealClearMarkets commentary by Free Enterprise Project Director Scott Shepard, Scott considers whether the free market is still truly free, or if external forces are conspiring to restrain trade and free speech — for instance, in the cases of ChatGPT and of censorship by Big Tech and AT&T. And if those forces are indeed at work, what legal recourses are available?

ChatGPT, while a fascinating tool, has been hit with accusations of liberal bias. Scott predicts this won’t be the case for long, however; either ChatGPT’s creators will fix the bias issue or competitors on the center-right will arise to provide an alternative to the artificial intelligence program.

If Scott’s prediction is wrong, he says the results will be telling:

If neither of those things happen, though, we will have a pretty good idea that artificial market control is being exerted, either by government or by a consortium of competitors and allied market actors. This fairly definitely happened when Apple, Google, Amazon Web Services and others combined to lock Twitter-competitor Parler out of the social-media market in early 2021. That’s illegal: a “combination in restraint of trade.” And corporate executives have gone to jail for much less blatant instances of it in the past….

An FTC that sought to address real violation of anti-trust law would therefore have Amazon, Google and Apple – and their CEOs and responsible executives – in the dock for their behavior in 2021.

Scott provides additional context by raising the issue of AT&T/DirecTV’s recent cancelling of the Newsmax and OAN television channels:

[T]his is definitely partisan bias, but it certainly does not raise any possible anti-trust issue….

That doesn’t mean that AT&T faces no liability, though. States may want to investigate – to explode the company’s claims that anything but partisan animus drove its considerations….

Similarly, shareholders might want to demand the relevant records of AT&T and DirectTV to find out the same thing. And should they find an absence of any plausible or objectively established business case (and so find self-dealing, partisan behavior by executives) or one built negligently on rubbish research, they should then bring suit against the corporation. Recall that a finding of self-dealing results in payments coming directly from the relevant executives’ own pockets, and, in the normal course of things, should result in their dismissal.

That would focus some executive minds, I suspect. As, I hope, will the first “combination in restraint of trade” case against, perhaps, some giant investment-house and bank CEOs.

Read Scott’s column in entirety here.

Author: The National Center