Monday, November 29, 2021

Antitrust advocate Zephyr Teachout launches bid for New York attorney general

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On Monday, progressive tech critic Zephyr Teachout announced that she will run for New York attorney general in 2022. A law professor at Fordham University and a scholar on corruption and antitrust laws, Teachout could push for more strenuous penalties in several major tech antitrust cases.

Teachout said earlier this year that she would run for attorney general if the incumbent, current attorney general Letitia James, decided to run for governor. In October, James announced that she would be running for the New York gubernatorial Democratic nomination, leaving the attorney general seat open next year.

At a press conference on Monday, Teachout said her priorities as attorney general would include fighting corruption and corporate abuse while defending civil rights.

“I have been fighting against corruption for my entire career, and I will go after politicians who lie and who think they are above the law,” Teachout said on Monday.

While Teachout’s Monday announcement focused on political corruption, she has become a prominent proponent of using antitrust law to break up tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. In her 2020 book, Teachout discussed several ways in which state and federal governments could pursue breakups, like actions from the Federal Trade Commission and new laws from Congress.

From her position at Fordham Law, she has also done significant research into the legal and political nuances of antitrust action. Last year, she published Break ‘Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money, outlining the alleged ways in which powerful corporations like Facebook maintain their market power and stamp out competitors.

“The big tech companies dominate all aspects of choice, controlling markets, picking winners and losers, listening in on our conversations, directing purchases,” Teachout wrote in her 2020 book. “They have gone beyond responding to consumer needs to dictating them.”

Under James, the New York attorney general’s office has helped lead several antitrust lawsuits against tech companies. Last December, James (along with 47 other attorneys general) filed a lawsuit against Facebook alleging that the company maintains an illegal monopoly in the social media market. In July, James filed a second lawsuit against Google accusing the company of holding an illegal monopoly in the mobile app distribution and payment processing markets with its Play Store.

James’ first antitrust lawsuit against Google was filed last December accusing the company of search result manipulation.

Teachout has voiced support for these kinds of antitrust actions in the past and called for additional remedies, like new antitrust laws, to combat Big Tech monopolies.

“Dismantling their power will be no small task,” Teachout wrote of tech giants in 2020. “We can break them up, and work toward banning their poisonous business model.”





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