Germany: Tech Giants Monopoly on User Data Harms Competition

Online platforms that collect data on users are making regulators wonder whether or not they violate antitrust laws.

Germany is the frontrunner for realizing that laws must evolve to keep pace with technological change, as Andreas Mundt, Germany’s top antitrust enforcer, demanded that Facebook stop automatically sharing data among the services it owns, The New York Times reported.

Mundt argued that the data collected by companies such as Facebook and Google strengthened their positions over their rivals.

The information that online platforms collect help them create algorithms to better target advertising. Facebook made $55 billion from advertising last year while Google’s totaled to $116 billion.

Regulators fear that the lack of new competitors makes the tech giants anticompetitive.

Jason Furman, a senior economic adviser in the Obama administration who currently advises the British government on tech regulation, suggested that countries should create a regulator for the tech industry, much like those that cover banking and health.

The European Commission, on the other hand, has used antitrust law to punish Amazon, Apple, Google, and Qualcomm for unfair competition.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s top antitrust regulator has said that “data must play a more central role in assessing market dominance in the digital economy, particularly when reviewing acquisitions by tech companies.”

Mundt hopes to inspire regulators to take bolder actions and push legal boundaries, just as tech companies have done.

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