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EU: Tech regulators may impose new data rules

 |  September 15, 2019

The European Union’s (EU) Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager said new rules may be imposed to ensure companies that collect data are not misusing it, according to a report by Reuters.

Vestager, who made the comments on Friday, September 13, was recently appointed to stay in her position as European competition commissioner for another five years. Her comments could mean there will be new rules on the horizon to specifically cover how companies handle data.

So far, most data issues with tech companies have been handled on a case-by-case analysis, without specific regulatory guidelines. Vestager has fined Google and Qualcomm around US$10 billion euros after they were found to have squashed competition.

“If we want to define the market, to set out what’s acceptable and what isn’t, then what we need is not more competition enforcement. We need regulation,” she said in Copenhagen. “So we may also need broader rules to make sure that the way companies collect and use data doesn’t harm the fundamental values of our society.”

Vestager said the data protection rules that were put in place in 2018 did allow for control over personal data, but fell short when it came to tech companies using data to make conclusions about individuals or in terms of maliciously undermining democracy.

In July, it was reported that Amazon would face a major investigation by the Commission. The probe had been ongoing, but there were questions about whether it would grow wider. The investigation centered on how Amazon uses data from third-party merchants on the platform. Vestager was mainly trying to determine how Amazon operates with smaller companies, and whether it gives itself an advantage over them.

“They host a lot of little guys, and at the same time, they’re a big guy in the same market,” Vestager said. “So how do they treat the data they get from the little guy? Does that give them an advantage that cannot be matched?”

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