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EU: No new ‘competition rulebook’ necessary for big data age, says commissioner

 |  January 19, 2016

There is no need for new competition rules to be drawn up to account for the importance of data to businesses in today’s digital age, the EU’s competition commissioner has said.

In a speech in Munich, Margrethe Vestager said that the European Commission is, though, prepared to intervene in cases where “genuine competition issues” are raised by companies’ use or control of data.

“We don’t need a whole new competition rulebook for the big data world,” Vestager said. “Just as we didn’t need one for a world of fax machines, or credit cards, or personal computers. What we do need is to pay close attention to these markets and to take action when it’s necessary.”

Vestager highlighted the potential for companies’ use of data to breach competition laws, but confirmed that the Commission had yet to find an example of a business using or controlling access to data in a way that ran contrary to EU competition rules. She also confirmed that companies can hold a lot of data without breaching those rules.

“If just a few companies control the data you need to satisfy customers and cut costs, that could give them the power to drive their rivals out of the market,” Vestager said. “And with less competition, there’s a risk that there won’t be enough incentive for companies to keep using big data to serve customers better. If a company’s use of data is so bad for competition that it outweighs the benefits, we may have to step in to restore a level playing field. But we shouldn’t take action just because a company holds a lot of data. After all, data doesn’t automatically equal power.”

Full content: Computer Business Review

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