Data Accumulation and the Privacy-Antitrust Interface: Insights from the Facebook Case for the EU and the U.S.

Stanford Law School and the University of Vienna School of Law TTLF Working Paper No. 31/2018. A modified version of the paper has been published in "International Data Privacy Law” 2108, 8(3), 224

46 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2018 Last revised: 11 Mar 2019

See all articles by Giuseppe Colangelo

Giuseppe Colangelo

University of Basilicata, Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics; Stanford Law School; Bocconi University - Department of Law; LUISS Guido Carli, Department of Business and Management

Mariateresa Maggiolino

Bocconi University - Department of Legal Studies; Ask Research Center

Date Written: February 17, 2018

Abstract

The emergence of multi-sided media platforms occurred in parallel with the success of business models that revolve around the collection and use of personal data, generating revenue from user-data-based profiling and advertising. In such a context, data protection rules do not appear to be very effective, and thus the main privacy concerns relate to users' ability to control their digital identities. However, together with mere privacy issues, another concern lies at the heart of the debate about the data economy: that the collection and aggregation of data (including personal data) by dominant firms entrenches their dominant positions.

This paper discusses these issues by analysing the Facebook case initiated by the German Competition Authority. The Bundeskartellamt takes the view that Facebook is abusing its dominant position by leveraging its social network to amass, without limitation, a broad range of data generated by its users when they visit third-party websites. Facebook then merges this data with users' Facebook accounts. By focusing on these activities, the Bundeskartellamt takes the position that Facebook may use such data to optimize its commercial activity and tie more users to its network.

Based on a consideration of both EU and U.S. legislation, this paper will analyse the conditions under which the Facebook's conduct could fall within the scope of antitrust rules.

Keywords: Antitrust, Privacy, Big data, Facebook, Bundeskartellamt, Unfair practice

JEL Classification: D83, K21, L12, L4

Suggested Citation

Colangelo, Giuseppe and Maggiolino, Mariateresa, Data Accumulation and the Privacy-Antitrust Interface: Insights from the Facebook Case for the EU and the U.S. (February 17, 2018). Stanford Law School and the University of Vienna School of Law TTLF Working Paper No. 31/2018. A modified version of the paper has been published in "International Data Privacy Law” 2108, 8(3), 224. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3125490 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3125490

Giuseppe Colangelo (Contact Author)

University of Basilicata, Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Economics ( email )

Via dell'Ateneo Lucano 10
Potenza
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/giuseppecolangelouni/

Stanford Law School ( email )

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Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://law.stanford.edu/transatlantic-technology-law-forum/

Bocconi University - Department of Law ( email )

Via Roentgen, 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/giuseppecolangelouni/home

LUISS Guido Carli, Department of Business and Management ( email )

Viale Romania 32
Rome, Roma 00197
Italy

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/giuseppecolangelouni/

Mariateresa Maggiolino

Bocconi University - Department of Legal Studies ( email )

Via Roentgen, 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Ask Research Center ( email )

via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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