Federal and state antitrust regulators and politicians are fixated on this country’s most successful online businesses. When discussing why the U.S. should follow other countries’ lead and bring these American-made innovators to heel (including at tomorrow’s House Judiciary Committee hearing), we may hear phrases like “data is the new oil,” “essential facility,” “network effects,” and “barrier to entry.” The use of such catchy buzzwords should not distract anyone, however, from the reality that collection and use of consumer data does not justify demands for elevated antitrust scrutiny.

Data is the new oil is a clever phrase, evoking a substance which, though essential to the economy, is highly regulated and increasingly demonized. But it is a misleading, inapt metaphor. Numerous other commentators, including International Center for Law and Economics’ Alec Stapp (who’ll be speaking at an October 30 WLF briefing) and Georgetown University’s Mark MacCarthy, have thoroughly debunked the comparison, so we’ll focus here on three other buzzwords.