IGF 2019 OF #11 Data Governance and Competition


The Open Forum will contribute to the global discussion about data governance by presenting and discussing the work of specialized advisory groups and committees in different countries, such as the UK Digital Competition Expert Panel, the authors of the BRICS-Report "Digital Era Competition", the EU Special Advisors on Competition Policy in the Digital Age and the German Federal Commission on Competition Law 4.0.


Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (Germany)
Martin Schallbruch, ESMT Berlin

  • Moderator: Philipp Steinberg, Director General for Economic Policy, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
  • Speaker:
    • Philip Marsden, Deputy chair of the enforcement decision making committee of the bank of England, Professor at College of Europe, Member of the UK Digital Competition Expert Panel
    • Ioannis Lianos, Chair of global competition law and public policy at University College London, Co-author of the BRICS-Report "Digital Era Competition"
    • Heike Schweitzer, Chair for Private law, European Economic law, and Competition Law at Humboldt University of Berlin, Member of the EU Special Advisors on Competition Policy in the Digital Age
    • Martin Schallbruch, Deputy Director of the Digital Society Institute at ESMT Berlin, Co-Chair of the German Federal Commission ‘Competition Law 4.0’
Online Moderator



GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations

Key policy questions:

  • How should governments react to the growing economic and market power of big tech companies? By breaking up big tech companies, regulating digital industries, or just observing the developments and leaving it up to international competition?
  • Do we need an access to data for competitors in order to retain competitive pressure? If so, to which kind of data should such an obligation apply?
  • As data is an important value-adding factor – who should reap the benefits out of the personal data of consumers?

The open forum 11 “data governance and competition” aims to discuss the competitive situation in the digital economy and the role of access to data for competition. To this end, advisory groups and committees on digital competition policy from different countries will present their findings.

2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Due to the rapid change and evolution of digital markets, there was broad support for speeding up competition proceedings and using interim measures more extensively. The speakers also agreed on the view that there is a need to further develop the existing instruments of competition policy in order to reflect the higher complexity of multi-sided markets and to go beyond classical price theory (especially the BRICS-Report recommended to take greater account of value chains and vertical power).

A controversial debate arose on the effects of data access on innovation: The key issue was the tradeoff between innovation incentives of data exclusivity and the possibility of anti-competitive behavior. Moreover, the experts described briefly the discussion on "killer acquisitions": On the one hand a strict merger control is crucial in order to prevent the accruement of exceeding market power; on the other hand being bought by a major platform company is a strong incentive for many startups to delevop innovative products.

3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward

The panelists recommended that governments should establish a pro-competitive ex-ante regulatory environment in order to complement the “traditional” instruments of competition law. This ex-ante regulatory structure should comprise rules on data portability and interoperability as well as a code of conduct for dominant platform companies (e.g. prohibiting measures of self-preferencing). Moreover, they suggested strengthening consumer power regarding personal data (e.g. establishing "data trustees").

4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues

The reports that have been debated during the open forum deal with the respective issues. On national and supranational level, we observe several legislative initiatives to modernize competition law or regulate specific tech sectors (taking competition issues into account).

5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues

The key ideas have been to develop a toolkit approach (in order to modernize the analyses of digital markets and contractual relations) that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, to modernize competition law (see above), and to use regulatory sandboxes in specific sectors.

6. Estimated Participation

approximately 80 to 100 participants (approximately 50% female and 50% male)

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

Gender issues have not been discussed explicitly.

8. Session Outputs

Due to the limited time of the open forum (60 minutes), the key outputs are the policy recommendations that all participants could agree on (confer item 3 “policy recommendations”).