EU Asks: Does Control of 'Big Data' Kill Competition?
"European Union antitrust regulators are eyeing an increasingly important corporate currency: data," states the Wall Street Journal (Jan. 2, Drozdiak). Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, is zeroing in on how companies stockpile and use so-called big data -- enormous computer files of industry statistics, customer records, and other information. The move diverges from a hands-off approach in the United States where regulators emphasize the benefits big data brings to innovation. At issue for European antitrust regulators is whether firms holding big data, from Facebook Inc. to BMW AG, can exclude new competitors from markets if they control exclusive information needed to satisfy customers or reduce costs. "The regulators say big data isn’t bad in itself," concludes the Journal, "but when reviewing mergers or monopolies they want to ensure that rivals aren’t prevented from competing because they lack access to that information."
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