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Former DOJ Official Gene Kimmelman Talks Digital Market Regulation At Harvard Kennedy School

Eugene I. Kimmelman spoke about antitrust regulations at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday.
Eugene I. Kimmelman spoke about antitrust regulations at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday. By Julian J. Giordano
By Samuel P. Goldston and Leah J. Lourenco, Contributing Writers

Consumer protection expert Eugene I. “Gene” Kimmelman discussed the global impact of the European Union’s digital market regulations at a Harvard Kennedy School event on Tuesday.

The event, hosted by the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, focused on the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which aims to restrict anticompetitive behavior by powerful technology companies. Negotiated by the European Council and the European Parliament in March, the DMA will impose restraints on large technology companies, such as browsers and social networks.

Kimmelman, who previously served as chief counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, discussed the control that large technology companies — including Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta — hold over smaller businesses that use their online platforms.

After providing an overview of the DMA’s design and implementation, Kimmelman discussed the legislation’s impact on the American market. He said technology giants will likely be forced to comply with the DMA even outside of the EU.

“They can’t run two fundamentally different businesses,” he said in an interview after the event. “The U.S. policy process will be influenced by the actual implementation of the DMA.”

Kimmelman added that maintaining a competitive digital market will bolster American democracy.

“You can’t have open ideas without having possibilities of competition in businesses,” he said.

He said the DMA will work in tandem with similar, pre-existing antitrust laws and competition policies.

“Interventions like the DMA are, to me, a welcome pushback against the tendency to monopolize these key markets,” Kimmelman said.

John A. Haigh, co-director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center, said in an interview that the DMA’s approach to digital market regulation is unprecedented.

“I think that the DMA is setting up a kind of ex ante approach of regulating platforms that doesn't exist in the United States,” he said. “And that is really going to shape significantly global regulation.”

The American public is typically less receptive to regulatory policy than Europeans, Kimmelman said. But he said he expects that in time, Americans will come to favor the preservation of competition in digital markets.

“I think there’ll be an understanding on a basic level that having more choices of what to do when you’re in the Google ecosystem, or you’re in the Amazon ecosystem, or the metaverse, is a good thing,” Kimmelman said.

“It plays to the natural instincts of Americans to have choice and to have more freedom to pick and choose the products and services they want,” he added.

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PoliticsHarvard Kennedy SchoolEurope