Preserving contestability in the data economy


Data-driven digital products are becoming ubiquitous, traditional markets are rapidly becoming digitised and a handful of tech companies have come to dominate digital markets. This development has sparked a debate about whether competition authorities are well equipped to handle data-driven industries. Yet, as of today these tech companies are highly innovative, sell many of their products at zero prices for consumers and are among the leading companies for global spending on R&D. This raises the question whether there is really anything amiss that would call for a more active antitrust policy. In this article, we explain the economics of data-driven industries and discuss how policy measures can affect the contestability of these markets. We discuss the need for and implications of changes to merger control, data portability, and mandated data access. None of these measures is a silver bullet. Instead, they could be added to the policy toolbox and used on a case-by-case basis after carefully considering the specificities of the market. Furthermore, the timing of interventions is often crucial. In some cases, it will be sufficient to consider policies in the context of ex post competition enforcement. In other cases, intervention at this stage may come too late and ex ante regulation is preferable.

Competition Law and Policy Debate, 5(2): 55-65


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