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The role of privacy in competition law
September 23, 2020, 12:30 - 14:00
Bergen Center for Competition Law and Economics (BECCLE), the Research group for EU/EEA Commercial law and the Research group for Information and Innovation law, are pleased to announce a guest lecture by Ms. Arletta Gorecka, PhD Candidate in Law at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. In the lecture, Ms. Gorecka will elaborate on the role of privacy in competition law by presenting two recent cases. The lecture will take place 23. September via Zoom (the link is published below).
“The relationship between competition law and privacy is still seen as problematic with academics and professionals trying to adequately assess the impact of privacy on the competition law sphere.” Indeed, it is not difficult to agree with Ms. Gorecka, whose research is dedicated to the increasingly more interesting interplay between competition law and personal data protection.In June, Ms Gorecka published a chapter “Is “Privacy” a means to protect the competition or advance objectives of innovation and consumer welfare?” in Maria Tzanou (Ed.), Personal Data Protection and Legal Developments in the European Union Hershey, PA, IGI Global, 2020.
Ms. Gorecka will elaborate on the topic by examining two recent cases. The first concerns Facebook, an online social media and social networking service that does not require any further introduction. On 23 June 2020, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) provisionally confirmed the allegation of Facebook abusing dominant position as a result of Facebook’s terms of service that allow for the processing and use of user data, which are collected online outside the Facebook platform. The German Competition Authority (Bundeskartellamt) prohibited Facebook from processing such data without additional consent given by private users. On 23 June the antitrust division of the Federal Court of Justice decided that the Bundeskartellamt’s prohibition can be enforced.
The second case concerns the European Commission’s in-depth investigation into the proposed acquisition of Fitbit by Google. Fitbit is an American company active in the development, manufacturing and distribution of wearable devices (both smartwatches and fitness trackers) and connected scales in the health and wellness sector, as well as in the supply of related software and services. As provided in the press release, the Commission is concerned that the proposed transaction would further entrench Google’s market position in the online advertising markets by increasing the already vast amount of data that Google could use for personalisation of the ads it serves and displays. As Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, responsible for competition policy, clarified: “The use of wearable devices by European consumers is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. This will go hand in hand with an exponential growth of data generated through these devices. This data provides key insights about the life and the health situation of the users of these devices. Our investigation aims to ensure that control by Google over data collected through wearable devices as a result of the transaction does not distort competition.”
The lecture will take place via Zoom. To participate in the lecture, follow this Zoom link. The Meeting ID is: 615 0939 2478. The password is: 1b927s02.