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中英双语:莉娜•汗将如何管束科技巨头?

How much can Lina Khan do to rein in Big Tech?

莉娜•汗将如何管束科技巨头?

中英双语:莉娜•汗将如何管束科技巨头?

New head of US regulator FTC favours working through regulation than having court battles

美国新任反垄断负责人更青睐利用监管规定,而非法律途径来约束科技企业,但这样做将带来政治风险和法律挑战。

英国《金融时报》 理查德•沃特斯 报道

As Democrats in Washington made their final preparations for an assault on the power of Big Tech, it looked like a decisive one-two punch.

华盛顿的民主党人正为打击科技巨头的力量做最后的准备,这看起来似乎是决定性的连击。

A week ago, the House of Representatives proposed a clutch of new antitrust laws. This followed public hearings and a damning Congressional report last year that owed much to the behind-the-scenes work of Lina Khan, an academic who has been influential in shaping the response to tech power.

近期,美国众议院提出一系列新反垄断法案。此前国会举行过数次公开听证会,还在去年发布了一份谴责性报告,这在很大程度上要归功于莉娜•汗(Lina Khan)的幕后工作。汗是一名学者,在塑造如何应对科技力量方面很有影响力。

Then, this week, it emerged that Khan will become the next head of the Federal Trade Commission, setting her up as one of Washington’s foremost trustbusters.

然后在上周,人们发现,汗将担任美国联邦贸易委员会(FTC)的下一任主席,成为华盛顿最重要的反垄断官员之一。

The natural questions that follow: will Congress follow through with new legislation? If not, will a Khan FTC go it alone in trying to set new rules to rein in the tech giants? And if it does, how much could it hope to achieve under existing antitrust laws?

接下来自然会有这些问题:国会是否会通过新的立法?如果不通过,汗领导的美国联邦贸易委员会是否会单独行动,试图建立新规则来管束科技巨头?如果是这样,它在现有反垄断法律下有望取得多少成绩?

The legislative agenda is ambitious. Inevitably, most attention has fallen on a bill to break up the big tech companies.

立法议程很有雄心。不可避免的是,大多数关注都落在一份拆分科技巨头企业的法案上。

Forcing a complete restructuring of America’s most conspicuously successful — and still generally popular — industry sounds like a tall order, even in a period less riven by partisan politics. A degree of Republican backing for the House bills has been notable. But getting to a filibuster-proof 60 votes in the Senate will be hard.

即使目前的党派政治分裂不那么严重,强迫美国这个成就最为突出——而且仍然广受欢迎——的行业完全重组,听起来也像不可能的任务。值得注意的是,共和党人在一定程度上支持这份众议院法案。但该法案要想避免那些试图阻挠法案通过的冗长演说而在参议院得到60票,将很困难。

A less drastic law would prevent the companies giving unfair preference to their own services. This fits closely with the approach that Khan has advocated through her scholarly work, most notably on Amazon, where she showed a preference for non-discrimination rules of the kind applied to essential utilities.

另一份不那么极端的法案则将防止企业对自己的服务给予不公平的偏袒。这与汗在其学术著作中倡导的策略十分一致,最著名的是她对亚马逊(Amazon)的研究,她在其中表现出,她偏好将非歧视性规则运用于关键公用设施。

Yet many see little chance of any of this getting into law. There may be a consensus in Washington about restraining the tech companies, but opinions about legislation to do it are all over the map, making it more likely the Biden administration will go for quick action under the existing laws, according to Nicholas Economides, a New York University economics professor.

然而,许多人认为,任何这些想法成为法律的可能性都微乎其微。纽约大学(New York University)经济学教授尼古拉斯•伊科诺米季斯(Nicholas Economides)表示,在约束科技企业方面,华盛顿也许有共识,但对如何通过立法来做到这一点,看法多种多样,各不相同,这意味着拜登(Biden)政府更可能在现有法律下采取快速行动。

At the FTC, Khan inherits an action against Facebook and investigation into Amazon. But she made it clear she would prefer to work through regulation rather than the courts. Last year, she co-authored a paper in favour of a significant rethink of how the agency wields its powers to prevent “unfair methods of competition”, advocating sweeping, industry-wide rules. The FTC has already taken steps in this direction, creating a new centralised staff group this year to come up with rulemaking proposals.

走马上任后,汗将接手一起针对Facebook的诉讼和一项针对亚马逊(Amazon)的调查,但她明确表示,她倾向于通过监管、而不是通过法院来开展工作。她去年与人合著的一篇论文主张进行深刻反思,探索美国联邦贸易委员会该如何运用其掌握的权力,防止“不公平的竞争方法”。论文中倡导实施全面的、适用于整个业界的规则。该机构已经朝着这个方向采取了一些措施,今年新成立了一个集中化管理的员工小组,负责拟定关于制定规则的提议。

There are likely to be other influential voices calling for swift action outside Congress. Tim Wu, a Columbia law school professor (like Khan) who was named an adviser to the White House this year, has been influential in arguing that current laws give the trustbusters some powerful weapons, they just need to be enforced more aggressively.

可能会有其他有影响力的人物呼吁在国会之外采取快速行动。今年被任命为白宫顾问、与汗同为哥伦比亚大学法学院教授的吴修铭(Tim Wu)就发表过颇有分量的言论,他认为现行法律为反垄断官员提供了一些很有威力的武器,只是需要更大力地使用这些武器。

Not that unilateral regulatory action would be plain sailing. Moving ahead without the backing of Congress would leave Khan politically exposed. Legal challenges would be inevitable.

单边监管行动并不会一帆风顺。没有国会的支持推进计划将给汗带来政治风险。法律挑战也不可避免。

Even if the FTC tries to set sweeping new non-discrimination rules for tech platforms, meanwhile, there are serious questions about how effective these could be.

另一方面,即使美国联邦贸易委员会试图为科技平台制定全面的、非歧视性的新规则,围绕这些规则的有效性也存在一些大问题。

Europe’s efforts on the issue have been underwhelming. These included forcing Microsoft to offer new PC customers a choice of their default internet browser, and requiring Google to prompt Android users to select their preferred search engine. Neither action had any noticeable effect on competition.

欧洲在这方面的力度也不够,他们采取的行动包括迫使微软(Microsoft)允许新电脑用户选择默认浏览器,要求谷歌(Google)提示Android用户可以挑选他们喜欢的搜索引擎,这两项行动对竞争都没有任何显著影响。

How to give internet users real choice on today’s dominant platforms presents huge design challenges. At this stage, it is questionable how many iPhone customers would jump at the chance of using a non-Apple App store, or how many Android users would welcome the choice of a non-Google search engine.

如何让互联网用户对今天占据主导地位的众家平台拥有真正的选择权,是设计上的巨大挑战。如今,有多少iPhone用户会赶紧抓住机会去使用苹果(Apple)以外的应用商店?有多少Android用户会欣喜于可以选择谷歌以外的其他搜索引擎?

Despite all this, some investors are already looking ahead to an opening up of the platforms that will give a new lease of life to a set of specialised internet services. Since November’s presidential election — and even before Democrats gained narrow control of the Senate — shares in Yelp, the local search company that has been a longtime critic of Google, have more than doubled. Travel company Expedia, another arch-foe of the search company, is up 77 per cent.

尽管如此,一些投资者已在期待这些平台将迎来开放,从而为一些专业化的互联网服务注入新活力。自从去年11月的美国总统大选以来——那时民主党甚至还没有以微弱多数优势控制参议院——长期对谷歌持批评态度的本地化搜索公司Yelp的股价上涨了一倍多,谷歌的另一大对头、做旅游业务的亿客行(Expedia)股价也上涨了77%。

Investors in these and many similar companies will be hoping that Khan, after doing much to set the agenda for the Democrats’ assault on Big Tech, can deliver the goods.

这两家公司及其他许多类似公司的投资者会抱着这样的希望:在做了许多事情、为民主党整治科技巨头设定议程之后,汗能够说到也做到。

richard.waters@ft.com

译者/何黎