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ITIF: Existing Antitrust Reviews Can Handle 'Big Data' Concerns

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says regulators should not start factoring in collection and use of data in antitrust reviews absent "clear examples of anticompetitive conduct."

That is according to a new report from the group, "The Myth of Data Monopoly: Why Antitrust Concerns About Data Are Overblown," which sites a growing argument that competition policy should be extended to companies' aggregation of data to provide goods and services, which would clearly implicate ISPs as well as edge providers and others.

ITIF says antitrust reviews already have mechanisms to deal with anticompetitive uses of data.

"When it comes to competition policy, the focus should be on abusive behavior and not on structural issues, such as how much data a company holds," the report says.

Among its principal arguments are that possessing a lot of data does not necessarily translate to market dominance, existing competition policy—market definition, market share analysis and market power—can handle data concerns, and that competition policy is not needed to protect privacy.

The report does not say that control over large amounts of data cannot be used to suppress competition. Instead, it argues that regulators should not take "preemptive action" to limit that collection and use absent "identifiable competitive threats."

That has generally been the argument ISPs made against various efforts by the Tom Wheeler FCC to anticipate potential theoretical harms from ISPs' "gatekeeper status," including the way the FCC treated the collection and use of customer information.

ITIF is an independent, bipartisan tech policy think tank.