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Privacy Lapses Could Be Part of Google, Facebook Antitrust Cases

Nov. 25, 2019, 9:00 AMUpdated: Nov. 25, 2019, 9:46 PM

Antitrust authorities probing Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have struggled with scrutinizing companies whose products are popular and free. Now they may have a solution: Use privacy as a test.

As the U.S. Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission, Congress and the states investigate whether internet companies are flouting antitrust laws, academics and even some regulators are pushing to go beyond the traditional focus on price as a determinant of harm. Enforcers, they say, should also consider privacy lapses as a proxy for anti-competitive behavior.

Their legal reasoning goes like this: Monopolists generally stop innovating, let product...

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