Big data and data-driven innovations have become an important part of our digital society. Big data has the potential to significantly improve services and products. Given the ubiquity and the impact of big data, the focus is not whether to, but how to implement regulatory oversight. Regulation has been examined in the context of data protection enforcement.
However, the regulation of big data through competition law enforcement has also become an important objective.
Big data and merger review: Big data concerns are important in merger cases involving data related markets. Mergers can lead to differentiated access and increased concentration of data if the transaction creates an entity holding a large database. Such a combination of interests is concerning if it is impossible for competitors to replicate or access the information.
In the Facebook (FB)/WhatsApp (WA) case, the European Commission (EC) considered whether the integration between FB’s social networking platform and the messaging application WA would allow the former access to the latter’s user data, thus reducing competition. Assessing the impact of data concentration on online advertising, EC concluded that there were no competition concerns, as alternative providers would continue to offer targeted advertising after the merger. Also, large amounts of internet user data, valuable for advertising purposes, are not within the exclusive control of FB. EC also decided similarly in the Microsoft/LinkedIn merger.
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Kalyani Singh is a partner and Mohith Gauri is an associate at Chandhiok & Mahajan.
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