Statement by South Carolina Attorney General Charles Condon.
Re: Withdrawal of South Carolina from Microsoft antitrust suit.
Case: New York v. Microsoft, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, Case No. 98-1233.
Date: December 7, 1998.
Source: Office of the Attorney General of South Carolina.
Statement by Attorney General Condon on Microsoft
As Attorney General for the State of South Carolina, I joined other states over a year ago in the antitrust action against Microsoft (State of New York, ex. rel. v. Microsoft Corporation). My expressed purpose was to ensure that the citizens and the businesses of South Carolina would be protected from any harm that might come from one company gaining a monopoly over access to the Internet.
Recent events have proven that the Internet is a segment of our economy where innovation is thriving. The merger of America Online with Netscape and the alliance by those two companies with Sun Microsystems proves that the forces of competition are working. Further government intervention or regulation is unnecessary and, in my judgment, unwise.
Therefore, South Carolina is withdrawing from the Microsoft antitrust action. I can no longer justify our continued involvement or the expenditure of state resources on a trial that has been made moot by the actions of the competitive marketplace. The Internet economy is the place where the winners and the losers of this competition will rightfully be decided.
In making this decision, I was also influenced by the analysis offered by Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who recently addressed the Microsoft issue. Professor Friedman pointed out that expanding the control exercised by government over the technology industry would mean fewer innovations, higher prices and lower profits. Such a result would damage the economy as well as the interests of consumers.
Over the last year, it has become clear that the government's case has been about Internet competitors, not about consumers. The government's witnesses are either Microsoft's competitors or paid government experts. Consumers have not taken a leading role in this action. That's because there are no monopolies on the Internet. Anyone who has been Christmas shopping lately knows that we are seeing rapid innovation and falling prices in the technology industry. The consumers of South Carolina are benefitting from freedom and competition in the marketplace.
Clearly the information technology industry is one of America's - and South Carolina's - great economic success stories. It has achieved its current rate of growth and prosperity without the aid or the interference of government. Competition is alive and well. Surely the Netscape-AOL-Sun deal has proven that beyond all doubt.
I am taking this step on behalf of South Carolina because we believe in the free enterprise system. Innovation should be left to entrepreneurs, not to government bureaucrats or to the courts. As long as I am Attorney General of South Carolina, I will do everything I can to keep it that way.