The project analyses whether the European Commission should consider privacy in competitive assessment in digital data environment. The conclusions of the research this far aim towards an affirmative answer which leads to the question of the extent of such consideration and the issue whether current tools and competition law framework are suitable to respond to the challenges of digital data economy. The research focuses both on behaviours abusing dominant position and on merger control.
The project first analyses objectives of competition and data protection laws, identifying overlapping and complementary aims. Tensions between the two regimes are also recognised and discussed. Subsequently, relevant characteristics of the digital data environment, specifically including platform economy, are analysed. In particular, the economic attributes of data, the four V’s of data, multi-sidedness, network effects, and the “zero” price of online services are studied.
Potential benefits and harms resulting from data-driven economy will be investigated, with a particular focus on identifying competitive harms relating to privacy. In particular, exploitative conduct relating to the use of personal data as well as data-driven mergers will be assessed. The evaluation will take into account the EU and chosen national case-law to date, reports and opinions on the interrelation between competition and data protection laws issued by regulators as well as scholarly views.
Further, based on conclusions from earlier analyses, the possibilities of taking privacy into consideration will be investigated as a non-economic objective of competition law and as part of consumer welfare and well-being. Subsequently, the suitability of current competition tools and legal framework to the assessment of challenges in the data-driven economy will be evaluated.
Finally, suggestions for potential solutions and improvements will be proposed. The options existing under current legal framework as well as new tools, specific to the Big Data environment, will be examined. In particular, the effectiveness of financial sanctions and remedies will be explored.