Setting The Record Straight: Parler And Cloud Competition
There are many options for cloud hosting and services and many companies use hybrid cloud systems and multi-cloud strategies to deliver innovative products to consumers and businesses. There is no one company controlling “the cloud,” which is why the Parler lawsuit against Amazon Web Services (AWS) for refusing to host violating content may be characterized as eccentric. AWS, along with many other cloud providers, has the right to suspend services to a company that consistently violates their terms of service. As more businesses and organizations turn to cloud services for better digital performance, it is crucial to keep in mind that:
— Dynamic, innovation-driven competition in today’s cloud services market makes it easier than ever to run an online service.
— The multitude of service options shows cloud providers are not gatekeepers and should not be subject to common carrier obligations.
— The Parler lawsuit is a prime example that antitrust laws should not be used to address non-antitrust claims.
Dynamic, innovation-driven competition in today’s cloud services market makes it easier than ever to run an online service.
Enterprises are all-in on multi-cloud strategies, thanks to a rapidly evolving cloud market:
— 93 percent of enterprises reported having a multi-cloud strategy. 87 percent are taking a hybrid approach, combining the use of both public and private clouds, highlighted by the State of the Cloud Report 2020.
— The global cloud computing market is expected to grow from $371.4 billion in 2020 to $832.1 billion by 2025. Product differentiation and innovation are paving the way for the development of cloud service providers.
— Today’s rising entrepreneurial culture is a perfect brewing ground for modern cloud service startups, such as Databricks, Uptake Technologies Inc., Rubrik, D2iQ Inc., Vlocity Inc., Confluent Inc., Stratoscale, and SecurityScorecard, creating even more competition.
Intense competition in the cloud services market accelerates the digital supremacy of businesses and organizations.
— As David Ulevitch at Andreesen Horowitz notes, AWS does not hold “the keys to the Internet.” Today, businesses and organizations have the viable and flexible option to work with a growing number of global traditional IT firms investing and innovating as cloud service providers, including but not limited to:
— In less than 24 hours, Parler, after being suspended from AWS, registered with a new cloud provider, Epik Technologies, proving that many cloud options are readily available for businesses of varying needs.
- Parler could also deploy on-premise cloud storage, such as Nextcloud, ownCloud, Seafile, Pydio Cells, and Syncthing, which are all equipped to satisfy individuals and companies of all sizes.
The multitude of service options shows cloud providers are not gatekeepers and should not be subject to common carrier obligations.
There is clear competition in the cloud services space with companies offering different services and providing businesses with the option to switch based on preferences and needs. Chris Marchese, Counsel at NetChoice: “For conservatives, this was cause for antitrust action if tech is powerful enough to ‘annihilate’ a site like Parler. But these points proved moot as the evicted Parler quickly found a new residence at Epik. And unlike AWS, which requires its business partners to keep their websites reasonably safe from violent and extremist content, Epik aligns with Parler and takes a more hands-off approach. In other words, AWS and tech companies like it proved to not be ‘gatekeepers’ of speech but instead were highlighted to be part of a greater competitive landscape online. AWS and Epik remain part of the thriving competition in cloud computing while Parler and Twitter are free to compete another day.”
Subjecting private cloud providers to a public utility-like regulation would compromise the service quality, harm consumers, and open the door to overbearing antitrust actions. Jennifer Huddleston, Director at American Action Forum: “These companies are private actors with their own terms of service who are allowed to make their decisions about whom to provide services to within the bounds of their terms of service and current law. Policymakers and consumers should be concerned about calls to use antitrust enforcement against Big Tech in regard to private companies’ choices to enforce their policies. Private antitrust litigation can result in higher prices or fewer options for consumers. Legislative action could have an even greater impact.”
The Parler lawsuit is a prime example that antitrust laws should not be used to address non-antitrust claims.
Parler’s complaint against AWS is not an antitrust problem, it fails to establish AWS’s intent to profit as a non-competitor or provide any anticompetitive evidence. Herbert Hovenkamp, Professor at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School: “The problem is the complaint simply doesn’t allege facts that tend to show that, and the federal courts require that these complaints be fairly specific… Antitrust laws typically do not cover ‘political terminations.’ Parler would have to prove that Amazon’s decision to eliminate political speech was motivated by profit, yet Amazon said it repeatedly warned the network about its failure to identify and remove threatening content.”
The suspension of Parler for breaching AWS’s terms of service does not violate antitrust laws; expanding antitrust to address non-antitrust claims undermines the rule of law. Dirk Auer, Senior Fellow at the International Center for Law & Economics: “Antitrust law is about preserving competition, not forcing firms to behave kindly, fairly or apolitically… Bodies of law are created to achieve specific objectives. Bending these rules to fit the idiosyncratic preferences of disgruntled citizens is inconsistent with democracy and the rule of law.”