Competition policy in the digital era

The purpose of this article is to examine briefly a few implications of digital data and ’cyber competition’ for competition policy. It does so by discussing two cases that were concerned with alleged extensions of a dominant position in the digital world into a neighbouring market. In particular, the article discusses the possible theory of harm underpinning the Commission’s June 2017 decision in the Google Shopping case. That decision brought to an end one of the best known and most controversial investigations that the Commission has conducted. It resulted in the imposition of a record fine of €2.42 billion and raises issues of substantial legal importance about the proper scope of Article 102 TFEU. Pending the outcome of Google’s appeal to the General Court, it is suggested that judicious intervention under the EU competition rules is necessary and desirable in the digital world.

The Economist has described digital data as the world’s most valuable resource. Data is valuable for all of us as individuals and as consumers; it is valuable for businesses in terms of developing ever-more personalised advertising; and it is also valuable for societies as we seek to improve our understanding of the world around us. Not only is data inherently valuable, it is also voluminous. It has been predicted that the volume of data created will reach 180 zettabytes in 2025. Hence, the term “big data.” The value, size and use of data creates challenges and opportunities for competition policy. On the one hand, the virtue of digital data is its ability to help firms to develop new and better products, and to improve their “value proposition,” since it can be tailored to the

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  • King’s College (London)


David Bailey, Competition policy in the digital era, February 2018, Concurrences N° 1-2018, Art. N° 85712,

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