Mette Alfter, Associate Director in Frontier’s competition team, today gave a presentation at the “Raw Material Big Data” Conference hosted by Oppenhoff & Partner in Cologne, focusing on the use of Big Data and algorithms by businesses and the challenges that this poses to competition law. The presentation was held together with Dr Daniel Dohm, Partner at Oppenhoff & Partner.
Big Data is a hot topic. It is transforming many industries, and is increasingly becoming a subject of concern for antitrust authorities who are trying to get a grip on how best to assess competition law issues in the digital economy. In the vast majority of cases, the impact of Big Data will be positive and pro-competitive, leading to new, better, or cheaper products. However, as also highlighted in the presentation, Big Data can lead to competition concerns, such as when access to data gives a firm a competitive advantage that cannot be replicated, or facilitates explicit or tacit collusion between firms.
Although many of the concerns are still largely theoretical, especially regarding tacit collusion, competition authorities have started thinking seriously about them. Both the German Bundeskartellamt and the UK Competition and Markets Authority are said to be looking into hiring digital experts to help with the assessment of competition law issues in the digital economy. The European Commission is putting together two working groups: one looking into the ethics of machine learning, and the other into liability in the digital sphere. In addition, the coalition agreement of the new government in Germany has committed to looking into whether or not German competition law needs to be updated to better cope with competition law issues in the digital economy.
Frontier regularly advises firms, regulators and competition authorities on competition issues across Europe.
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