Antitrust law is ill prepared to handle a “market” where some percentage of consumers consider a loss of privacy a gain and others consider it a loss. Economic reasoning in general falters in the face of externalities, but usually we can all agree that, say, pollution is a harm (or negative externality) and flowers are a boon (or positive externality). Privacy preferences are much more idiosyncratic.

* Frank Pasquale. (2010). “Beyond Innovation and Competition: The Need for Qualified Transparency in Internet Intermediaries.“ Northwestern University Law Review 104(1).

EU regulators accuse smart card chipmakers of price-fixing

Looks like some chipmakers might experience some revenue ‘setbacks’ after engaging in antitrust actions:

The case has been ongoing for years, as the European Commission searched the offices of Infineon Technologies AG, STMicroelectronics NV, Renesas Technology Corp. and Atmel Corp. in 2008. In 2009 it investigated companies that make chips for telephone SIM cards, bank cards and ID cards over price-fixing and customer allocation. NXP Semiconductors NV has admitted that it has been involved in the investigations and could be subject to fines.

Should the EU prove that price-fixing is occurring, it can levy fines on companies. While the commission has been trying to negotiated a settlement, those talks have fallen through, which may lead to stiffer fines.