Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Report: Tech Giants Should Release Customer Data

From the FT, reporting on a report published by the UK Government on internet competition.
Professor Furman said: “The focus should be doing what we can to increase competition, not to punish incumbents, but make it easier for new companies to enter the market.” “This is a report for the UK and the option of breaking up Google, for example, is not a policy option for the UK,” he added, stressing that at this stage the emphasis should be on changing the behaviour of tech giants. The central suggestion in the report is to force companies to release their stranglehold on data, which enhances their ability to develop artificial intelligence and prevents start-ups competing for business on a level playing field. The data held was often more valuable to tech companies than the services provided free to customers and the lack of competition allowed tech giants to avoid both paying users for their data and taking adequate steps to keep it secure.
Here is a link to the 150 page report:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/785547/unlocking_digital_competition_furman_review_web.pdf

From the exec summary: 
We believe the standard tools of competition policy, evaluating whether mergers can proceed and whether antitrust action is warranted to remedy abuses by companies, can play a role in helping to promote competition and the associated better outcomes for consumers and innovation. To do so, competition policy will need to be updated to address the novel challenges posed by the digital economy. Some of these updates can happen within current powers, but legal changes are important to ensure that this job can be done effectively.The biggest gains, however, will come from going beyond these tools to focus on policies that actively promote competition, foster entry by new competitors, and benefit consumers. This will entail a code of conduct for the most significant digital platforms, measures to promote data mobility and systems with open standards, and expanding data openness. By working with businesses and other stakeholders to set up predictable rules in advance, this can create a regime that allows competition and innovation to thrive.

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