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The Competition Authority (AGCM) has launched an investigation in Italy against Google alleging abuse of a dominant position resulting from limitations imposed by the group on data portability to other operators.
According to AGCM, Google holds a dominant position in several markets that allow the acquisition of large amounts of data through the multiplicity of services provided (Gmail, Google Maps, Android) and would have hindered interoperability in the sharing of data in its platform with other platforms, in particular with the Weople APP, operated by Hoda, an operator active in Italy that has developed a data investment bank.
According to AGCM, Google’s conduct is likely to restrict the right to portability of personal data, which is governed by Article 20 of the GDPR and limits the benefits consumers might derive from enhancing their data. The challenged conduct results in a competition restriction because it limits alternative operators’ ability to develop innovative ways of using personal data.
In particular, Hoda represented to AGCM the negative effects of Google’s conduct on its initiative to enhance the value of personal data with the consent of individuals and which offers innovative usage opportunities and unexplored product perspectives.
This is one of the first investigations related to the right to data portability introduced by the GDPR to avoid the so-called lock-in effect that limits the freedom of individuals to switch from one operator to another and enhance their data, thus going – in AGCM’s opinion – to exert competitive pressure on operators such as Google, which base their dominance on the creation of ecosystems based on the management of tendentially unlimited amounts of data. Moreover, in AGCM’s opinion, the right to portability, if accompanied by effective interoperability mechanisms, may offer users the opportunity to achieve the maximum economic potential from using personal data, including through alternative modes of exploitation to those currently practiced by the dominant operator.
The outcome of this judgment could impact all operators handling large amounts of data because it could also incentivize requests for portability of individuals to other operators, with significant market effects.
On a similar topic, the article “Google Analytics triggers unlawful data transfers according to the Garante in Italy” may be useful.