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US Antitrust Chief Says Protecting Blockchain From Competitive Abuses Is Top Priority

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the antitrust division needs to understand how blockchain could improve market competition.

Sep 4, 2020 at 4:27 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:52 a.m. UTC

A U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) official said blockchain deserves the full protection of antitrust law because it has the potential to mount an effective challenge to monopolies.

  • In a speech published last week, Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general at the DoJ's Antitrust Division, said blockchain could prevent or limit the concentration of market power, improving competition in a whole host of industries.
  • He said: "[I]t is of utmost importance that we prevent competitive abuses in markets where blockchain may offer consumers and business lower-cost or higher-value options."
  • Delrahim said the Antitrust Division would try to understand how businesses are implementing blockchain solutions as well as the possible effects it could have on market competition.
  • He also said the division would try to anticipate how incumbents could try to stop or limit the potential of blockchain solutions so they can maintain market-dominant positions.
  • This could include using private blockchains to deny rivals access to crucial market infrastructure, he said.
  • Thibault Schrepel, an assistant professor in Antitrust Law at Utrecht University School of Law and faculty affiliate at Standford University's CodeX Center, told CoinDesk the antitrust chief could be subtly hinting that blockchain could disrupt big tech monopolies.
  • In his speech, Delrahim added that critical questions remain, such as whether existing intermediaries have any place at all within a blockchain-based market system.
  • It's also possible, the antitrust chief said, that the role of blockchain could change over time as it faces further mainstream adoption.

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