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In a world where data is hailed as the new oil, fueling the engines of the digital economy, recent cases involving Google and Meta have brought to light a concerning intersection between privacy violations and potential antitrust breaches.
Google’s array of services contributed to its staggering $282.8 billion in revenues for 2022, igniting a fervent debate about the dangers of data dominance. An investigation by the Italian competition authority delved into Google’s alleged anti-competitive conduct, particularly its use of interoperability barriers to restrict data sharing with other platforms.
At the core of this case lies the concept of data portability, a crucial aspect governed by Article 20 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Data portability empowers users with the right to transfer their personal data to alternative operators, fostering competition in the market and opening doors to potential data monetization. When combined with effective interoperability mechanisms, data portability enables users to unlock the full economic potential of their personal data.
In response to the Italian Competition Authority’s investigation, Google proposed a set of commitments to address the concerns raised. These commitments include two supplementary takeout solutions, facilitating the export of data to third-party operators. Additionally, Google is exploring a novel solution that would allow direct service-to-service data portability for third-party operators, subject to the user’s authorization.
By automating the data export process and granting data accessibility to third-party platforms, Google’s commitments hold the potential to foster increased competition and spur innovation. Users will no longer be bound by Google’s ecosystem, as they can explore alternative ways to utilize and monetize their personal data.
This decision’s timing bears resemblance to a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice in the Bundeskartellamt v. Meta case. The court emphasized that assessing dominant companies’ conduct should include scrutiny of their compliance with other regulations, such as those governing data protection.
As a result, the CJEU reached the same conclusion as the Italian Competition Authority: data protection violations can lead to antitrust breaches. Consequently, privacy compliance has emerged as a pivotal factor for businesses, with regulatory bodies acknowledging that data control extends beyond competition law.
Data control holds the keys to economic control, and potential misconduct not only by tech giants like Google and Meta, but any business, in data exploitation can have far-reaching antitrust consequences on the economy. To mitigate these risks, EU regulators are introducing regulations like the Digital Markets Act to limit the potential occurrence of abuses. This adds an additional layer of compliance (and potential sanctions) to prevent abuses and protect individuals’ data.
The unfolding situation will be intriguing to watch. Privacy compliance must now take center stage in growth strategies, as potential misconduct can lead to a range of regulatory sanctions and legal claims. In a world where individuals are increasingly aware of the value of their data, businesses must navigate the complexities of data compliance.
On a similar topic, you can read the article “The Digital Market Act is in place and wants to change the Internet“.