Data Privacy and Competition Law in the Age of Big Data (completed)

The core remit of this project is to investigate the theoretical and practical implications that the commercialization of personal data has on the foundations and policy boundaries of data privacy law and competition law. More particularly, the project examines the potential intersection between data privacy law and competition law as a result of the increasing monetization of personal information.


About the Project

The digital economy is marked by vast information collection that is analyzed and exploited by businesses for their commercial ends; this led to the coining of the term "big data”. Personal data is the ‘new currency’, the ‘new oil’, the ‘life blood of businesses’ are contemporary catchphrases. At the heart of the business models for companies, such as Google or Facebook, considered the global information titans, is a detailed collection and analysis of consumer data, often gathered without the individual’s knowledge or consent. Such information is used to target advertisements to specific groups who might be most interested in buying certain products or services. Thus, the volume and quality of the personal data controlled by companies is becoming a key source of revenue and market power. Consumers also benefit from the collection of their data in the form of a broad array of free content, products, and services. However, such a collection of data on an unprecedented scale has put the privacy of consumers in greater danger than ever. Moreover, it ushers in a new challenge for the application of competition law.

Traditionally, competition law was primarily concerned with price and non-price issues, i.e., whether certain actions raise consumer prices or diminishes product quality, choice, or innovation. The treatment of personal data and privacy protection as such has not been part of competition law analysis. This has been changing in recent years due to the growing value of personal data for commercial purposes and as a key source of competitive advantage. For example, privacy has begun to creep into competition law discussions particularly where companies in data-rich industries seek a merger or acquisition.

In light of these developments, the challenge lies in balancing the economic benefits of big data and its harm to privacy while maintaining a healthy competitive environment. The core research question for the Project is: What are the theoretical and practical implications of the commercialization of personal data for the foundations and policy boundaries of data privacy law and competition Law?


The PhD will be delivered Autumn 2019. 


University of Oslo.

Published Dec. 12, 2016 11:58 AM - Last modified Dec. 8, 2021 11:45 AM