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November 01, 2018
Brattle Economists: Competitive Assessment of Data Collection Should Not Rely on Generalizations and Must be Assessed Case-by-Case; Antitrust Enforcement is an Inadequate Tool for Addressing Privacy Concerns

An article by Eliana Garcés and Daniel Fanaras examines the rising scrutiny being placed on the accumulation and use of data by digital platforms. The authors discuss the role of data in creating value for businesses and consumers, the regulatory considerations being voiced within antitrust and privacy settings, and the need for a case-by-case assessment of these considerations rather than generalized conclusions.

As technology has advanced, digital platforms have evolved to serve a multitude of purposes, from communicating to transacting to sharing information. Digital platforms have greatly reduced the search costs, information costs, and costs of service delivery compared to their offline counterparts, creating cost efficiencies as well as quality enhancements in products and services that often benefit their users. At the same time, however, there is a vast amount of user data being collected and utilized by platforms and this has led to concerns from both antitrust and privacy perspectives. The authors discuss certain antitrust considerations, concluding that individualized assessments are usually warranted to determine the effects of any particular data practices. They also discuss certain privacy considerations, including the uncertain link between competition, privacy and consumer welfare, concluding that antitrust scrutiny is not the most adequate tool to address any privacy concerns.

The article, “Antitrust, Privacy, and Digital Platforms’ Use of Big Data: A Brief Overview,” is authored by Brattle Principals Eliana Garcés and Daniel Fanaras and published in Competition, the Journal of the Antitrust, Unfair Competition, and Privacy Law Section of the California Lawyers Association. The full article is available for download below.