EU Asks: Does Control of ‘Big Data’ Kill Competition?


EU antitrust regulators are studying how companies gather and use big data with a view to understanding how access to data may close off the market to smaller, newer competitors. Among the companies being scrutinised are the obvious technology companies, such as Google and Facebook, and less obvious companies such as German car maker BMW. The commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, says her office has not yet found cause for concerns, although it fined Facebook for giving misleading information during its (reviewed and then permitted) acquisition of WhatsApp. The EU is considering changing its merger rules to ensure that deals involving valuable data are reviewed even when the companies owning that data don't have large revenue streams. A complication, however, is that it's difficult to value data or its analysis. To date, US regulators have argued that antitrust law should not be used to inhibit data sharing, which they argue is beneficial for consumers and fosters innovation.

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