Competition Law and Big Data
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Competition Law and Big Data

Imposing Access to Information in Digital Markets

Beata Mäihäniemi

In this timely book, Beata Mäihäniemi analyses and evaluates how the characteristics of information as a good, as well as the characteristics of digital platforms, affect the application of competition law in both theory and practice.
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Chapter 7: Introduction to Part II: refusal to give access to information: case study of Google search behaviours

Beata Mäihäniemi


The chapter introduces the reader into a critical analysis of the latest prohibition decision on Google, where supplementary and alternative approaches to the Commission’s findings are also provided. Two carefully selected practices, namely search bias and restrictions on the portability of advertising data to competing advertising platforms are selected as they are concerned with the entrenched control of information intermediaries over information where access to it is blocked or it is misappropriated (biased). The behaviours are analysed from the angle of whether Google’s behaviour does indeed make consumers worse off and lead to anticompetitive foreclosure and whether they could be addressed with some specific theories of harm. The question that arises here is whether the existing theories of harm are able to address the challenges that arise in digital markets and if not, is the Commission successful when it introduces new theories, such as exclusionary discrimination. However, also some ‘older’ and widely known theories of harm can be applied, one of which includes the essential facilities doctrine. Finally the chapter offers an insight into legal procedures and actions that the European Commission has faced in Google Search investigations, and briefly tackles a variety of possible remedies.

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