Randomization as an Antitrust Remedy

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The rise of big tech firms has steered contemporary antitrust law and policy debates toward concerns about leveraging and refusal to deal by digital platforms. Recent unilateral conduct cases and new legislative proposals for ex ante regulation target platforms that favor their own services over those of rivals, use defaults to potentially foreclose competition, or refuse to provide access to critical inputs, while a growing strand of academic literature focuses on the substantive legal and economic aspects of such strategies. Little attention, however, has been placed on the design of effective remedies and potential regulatory solutions to these controversial problems. The focus of this article is a proposal for the use of randomization-based mechanisms in the design of regulation and antitrust remedies related to platform competition. Contrary to the assumption commonly endorsed in the literature, this article seeks to demonstrate that platform bottlenecks such as digital rankings, inventories, and space in digital ‘real estate’ are characterized by lower scarcity constraints than physical inputs or infrastructure, thereby revealing their untapped shareability potential. This under-appreciated economic characteristic forms the premise and justification for an investigation of randomized allocation as a mechanism to efficiently exploit the neglected non-rivalrous nature of platforms’ digital inputs.