ZWeR 2017, 358

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 2199-1723 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2017 AufsätzeMaren Tamke*

Big Data and Competition Law

The emergence of Big Data in the digital economy and its corresponding impact on competition law has led to considerable debate in Europe over the last few years. A key concern for competition agencies is the potential harm that might be caused by a company’s ability to acquire datasets that other industry players cannot replicate. It is feared that the control of data may enable these firms to strengthen their market positions and to engage in anticompetitive behaviour, which could deprive consumers of the potential benefits that Big Data offers. Specifically, dominant companies might use Big Data to limit competition or to exploit consumers. In addition, tacit or explicit collusion amongst competitors could be facilitated by greater market transparency and the increasing application of algorithms. In future data-related transactions the potential aggregation of large datasets might also lead to greater scrutiny on the impacts of Big Data and the potential it might have to erect barriers to entry in the specific market and prevent viable competition. As such, regulators and policy makers are contemplating new approaches to ensure that data-related transactions that could significantly impede effective competition do not escape merger control scrutiny. This article considers these potential impacts of Big Data in competition law and outlines the key issues that might need to be addressed.


  • I. Introduction
  • II. Big Data – In the spotlight
  • III. What is ‘Big Data’?
  • IV. Pro-competitive effects
  • V. Assessment of data-related market power
    • 1. Access to data
    • 2. Network and lock-in effects
    • 3. Multi-homing
    • 4. Economies of scale
    • 5. Dynamic competition
    • 6. Concluding remarks
  • VI. Abuse of dominance
    • 1. Exclusionary conducts
      • 1.1 Refusing access to data
      • 1.2 Discriminatory conduct
      • 1.3 Exclusive contracts
      • 1.4 Tied sales and cross-usage of datasets
    • 2. Exploitative conduct/excessive collection of data
    • 3. Price discrimination
  • VII. Collusive behaviour
  • VIII. Merger control review
    • 1. Merger control thresholds
    • 2. Merger control assessment
  • IX. Regulation/new competition rulebook needed?
  • X. Conclusion
Dr. iur., LL.M. (Durham), Principal Associate, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Berlin. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Freshfields’ position. The author would like to thank Jonas Levermann for his valuable support.

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