In the April 17, 2017 Harvard Business Review article titled Should Antitrust Regulators Stop Companies from Collecting So Much Data? author Joe Kennedy – who is a is a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation – explores the question about whether the use of big data can inhibit competition.
Proponents of expanded antitrust reviews around data claim:
- Companies that control large amounts of data inhibit potential rivals that lack enough data to develop competitive products.
- Since existing antitrust law is focused on prices of goods and services, it does not adequately address competitive threats stemming from large collections of data.
- Consumer protection laws do not sufficiently deal with privacy concerns since privacy protections are a function of how much competition companies face.
Economists who oppose expanded antitrust reviews claim:
- There is little evidence to support the notion that possession of big data protects incumbents against superior product offerings.
- New technologies have enabled market entrants to utilize competitive data advantageously.
- Mere possession of large amounts of data does not constitute unfair competitive advantage.
The author concludes that:
- All companies are capable of engaging in anticompetitive behavior, regardless of whether they possess “lots of data.”
- Diligent antitrust enforcement remains crucial to the maintenance of competitive markets.
- Antitrust agencies have the power they need under existing law to address anticompetitive threats.
- Data-rich companies are an important source of innovation.
- Were data possession to become a factor in antitrust analysis, innovation would be improperly depressed.