Anthony W. Swisher is a Partner in the Washington, DC office of Baker Botts LLP and serves as the WLF Legal Pulse blog’s Featured Expert Contributor on Antitrust & Competition Policy — U.S. Department of Justice.

Antitrust practitioners often toil in the shadows. Many antitrust matters are just not that interesting to people beyond the parties involved and those of us who practice antitrust law for a living. Occasionally, however, an issue will arise that catches the public’s attention, and antitrust enjoys a moment in the spotlight. The recent public interest in “Big Tech” companies is one such moment. Firms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft suddenly find themselves the subject of increased antitrust attention. Recent months have seen numerous calls from political leaders and policy pundits to investigate the activities of Big Tech, some even going so far as to call for the firms to be broken up.

It is in this context that the DOJ Antitrust Division recently announced a review of “market-leading online platforms.” According to the DOJ’s press release, its review will consider “whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.” At first blush, announcing a review in this environment might be risky. An antitrust investigation launched in the context of heightened calls for the government to “do something” risks being incorrectly labeled as advancing questionable antitrust policy in service of a desire to appear proactive.