Data Portability And Competition Between Technology Platforms

Robert Seamans
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Any strategies that involve litigation and that are employed to broaden entrants’ access to large datasets—regardless of whether they adhere to a consumer-welfare antitrust standard or advocate for one that is broader—should be complemented by more forward-leaning regulatory approaches.
By Robert Seamans and Sam Himel
A number of commentators and policymakers have argued recently for regulatory measures to reduce the power of dominant technology platforms in the domain of user data. These regulatory measures—which range from the forced break-up of Google and Facebook to the social graph portability of all user data—have similar goals in mind: reduce the market power of these digital platforms and inject a modicum of competition so as to ultimately benefit end-users.

As explained in our recent article, the proposed regulatory interventions can affect competition in different ways. Some solutions promote more competition between the dominant platforms (competition “in the market”), whereas other solutions facilitate the rise of new entrants (competition “for the market”). Data portability together with the use of a trusted third party to manage the collection of and access to data would facilitate both types of competition.

What’s The Case for Regulatory Intervention?

Facilitating development in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies forms a substantial part of the case for these kinds of regulatory interventions. As noted in a variety of reports by Accenture, the Council on Foreign Relations, the McKinsey Global Institute, the World Economic Forum, and President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, among others, AI has the potential to boost productivity and economic growth. However, the most dramatic advances in AI arise from a data-intensive technique known as machine learning, which requires lots of data to create, test, and “train” the algorithms underlying the AI.

Read the full article as published by Forbes

Robert Seamans is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations.