ARTICLES: COMPETITION LAW – MERGER CONTROL – DIGITAL SECTOR – BIG DATA

Big data and competition law in the digital sector: Lessons from the European Commission’s merger control practice and recent national initiatives

The phenomenon of "big data" has been catching the attention of competition practitioners over the past years, as it challenges (and helps modernize) several traditional tenets of competition law. In this context, the article seeks to provide insights on three speific issues, on the basis of the European Commission merger control practice and the nascent practice of certain national competition authorities. First, how big data fits within the definition of a relevant market, in particular in view of the free nature of data collection and certain online services. Second, whether and how the accumulation of big data could lead to competitive harm, which the Commission is yet to characterise cleary. Third and last, whether competition law should also address privacy infringements, with a focus on the ongoing German investigation into Facebook. On each of these three topics, the coming months and years will tell whether the Commission and NCA will maintain their current cautious approach or rather consider that competitive issues relating to big data mandate a more (pro)active and innovative enforcement policy.

Introduction 1. Big data is one of competition law’s latest buzzwords, inspiring a wealth of legal and economic literature, numerous conferences, and even studies by national competition authorities (“NCAs”) on the impact of big data on competition. [1] The French Competition Authority (“FCA”) also launched a sector inquiry into big data in online advertising, [2] while the German Bundeskartellamt (“BKA”) opened an investigation into a potential abuse of dominance by Facebook arising from the company’s privacy policies. [3] 2. However, at the time of writing (mid-July 2016), this whirlwind of activity has yet to lead to the European Commission (“the Commission”) clearly establishing specific harm to competition through the use of big data. This also appears to be the situation in the Member

Access to this article is restricted to subscribers

Already Subscribed? Sign-in

Access to this article is restricted to subscribers.

Read one article for free

Sign-up to read this article for free and discover our services.

 

PDF Version

Authors

Quotation

Charlotte Breuvart, Etienne Chassaing, Annie-Sophie Perraut, Big data and competition law in the digital sector: Lessons from the European Commission’s merger control practice and recent national initiatives, September 2016, Concurrences Review Nº 3-2016, Art. N° 80763, pp. 41-55

Visites 1235

All reviews