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Connected Devices – An Unfair Competition Law Approach to Data Access Rights of Users

Drexl, JosefConnected Devices – An Unfair Competition Law Approach to Data Access Rights of Users (Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition Research Paper, No. 20-22), 2020, 48 S.

On the European level, promoting the free flow of data and access to data has moved to the forefront of the policy goals concerning the digital economy. A particular aspect of this economy is the advent of connected devices that are increasingly deployed and used in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT). As regards these devices, the Commission has identified the particular problem that the manufacturers may try to remain in control of the data and refuse data access to third parties, thereby impeding the development of innovative business models in secondary data-related markets. To address this issue, this paper discusses potential legislation on data access rights of the users of connected devices. The paper conceives refusals of the device manufacturers to grant access to data vis-à-vis users as a form of unfair trading practice and therefore recommends embedding data access rights of users in the context of the European law against unfair competition. Such access rights would be complementary to other access regimes, including sector-specific data access rights of competitors in secondary markets as well as access rights available under contract and competition law. Against the backdrop of ongoing debates to reform contract and competition law for the purpose of enhancing data access, the paper seeks to draw attention to a so far not explored unfair competition law approach.

Available at SSRN