The European Union’s antitrust chief called for more rules to rein in how companies collect and use information, offering the first clues into how she may use new powers to target big technology firms.
The EU’s much-vaunted data-protection legislation doesn’t cover how data can be used “to draw conclusions about me or to undermine democracy”, Margrethe Vestager said in a speech in Copenhagen on Friday. “When a few companies control a lot of data about us, that can also help them influence the choices we make.”
Europe “may also need broader rules to make sure that the way companies collect and use data doesn’t harm the fundamental values of our society”, she said. It’s one of the first indications for how she may use her unprecedented second term as competition commissioner from 1 November, bolstered with new laws to shape potential regulation for digital companies.
Vestager’s massive fines for Google and a tax crackdown on Apple have made her a much-feared enforcer for technology giants. She’s also investigating how Amazon.com may handle data on rival sellers on its marketplace. And her team has been asking questions about how Facebook deals with apps and its planned new cryptocurrency, libra.
Regulators will be keeping “a close eye” on how Internet platforms use their power “as both player and referee” when they host other companies that they also compete against, she said. A €2.4-billion fine on Google for undermining shopping search rivals “isn’t a one-off”, she said, citing an early-stage probe into whether Google used its search platform to help its job search business, Google for Jobs. — Reported by Aoife White, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP