IGF 2023 Town Hall #125 Competition Regulation for a Data-Driven Digital Economy

Issue(s)

Big Data Architecture, Usage and Governance
Data Privacy and Protection

Round Table - 60 Min

Description

Over time, businesses have acquired exclusive access to user data and leveraged aggregated data sets or big data to enjoy market power. This power is recognised to result in anti-competitive outcomes, including reduced consumer choice, lack of bargaining power between sellers and platforms, information asymmetry and vertical integration in markets. The market power of a few dominant players could eventually hurt the interests of those using the internet, both in the short and long run. For a data-driven digital market, characterised by openness, transparency and choice, it is crucial that a proactive and nuanced approach to competition regulation is adopted, one that helps to balance between innovation and well-governed markets.

User data is the real currency in otherwise zero-priced digital platforms. One of the key concerns reported by the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI/Commission) market study on the telecom sector in India, for which ICRIER was the implementation partner, states the link between access to data, privacy and competition. Data-driven market power could hamper the privacy of data principals, as prolonged use of their services makes the data fiduciary indispensable to the user. Against this backdrop, The Dialogue and ICRIER will organise a town hall, which brings out the interlinkages between privacy, data governance and competition. The session will deliberate on creating positive-sum games where regulatory approaches will enable digital innovation using data that is democratised.

Data Protection as a Value Proposition: Through this session, we will demonstrate how businesses could benefit in the long run by considering data protection and consumer protection as a value proposition and innovating with privacy safeguards. Here we will discuss how principles of privacy such as data minimisation, purpose limitation, and consent framework can help facilitate competition. Businesses that invest in privacy safeguards and embrace data protection as a core value can gain a competitive advantage, attract privacy-conscious consumers, and foster trust through responsible data management.

Democratising Innovation through Data: We will discern the means and ways through which data sharing amongst businesses can democratise innovation. By promoting collaboration and data exchange between businesses, smaller enterprises and startups can gain access to valuable data resources that were previously available to only a few established players. This increased access to data has the potential to spur innovation and level the playing field, enabling smaller businesses to emerge and compete more effectively. This session will also highlight some challenges of democratising data which include a) the non-rivalrous and not-excludable nature of personal data and (b) intellectual property rights associated with non-personal data. The session will explore strategies and mechanisms to balance the benefits of data sharing with robust data protection and privacy safeguards. The session will also discuss potential approaches to strike a balance between fostering data sharing for innovation and safeguarding intellectual property rights. By examining these nuances, the session aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with democratizing innovation through data. It will shed light on best practices, regulatory considerations, and potential frameworks to ensure that the positive-sum game of data sharing and innovation is realized while respecting privacy, data protection, and intellectual property rights.

Co-ordinated Regulation: Since data and technology cut across multiple sectors, data protection applies both vertically (across sectors) and horizontally (within the sector). Competition authorities and other regulators operated within their limited jurisdiction to regulate data. Coordination and harmonisation between competition authorities and other regulatory bodies are crucial to enable competitive outcomes for the digital economy through regulatory consensus.

The Dialogue and ICRIER, in the past, have worked around the intersection of data and competition and therefore, possess sufficient expertise and experience to implement the concept through the session. ICRIER’s report on ‘The Data Centred Economy: A New Temple for New India’ looks at data’s value as an economic commodity. The Dialogue’s report on the Data Protection Bill explores the challenges in ensuring coordination across sectoral regulators and suggests ways to harmonise the same.


The session format will be structured, considering both onsite and online attendees, where everyone, irrespective of the medium, would be given sufficient time to provide inputs and consequently reap maximum insights from the session. We will make the session interactive by allotting sufficient time for attendees' discussion and contribution to the topics. These contributions can be facilitated by the moderator soliciting questions and inputs regularly, i.e., during and after the inputs of each speaker have been provided. Followed by the time dedicated to the comments of the speakers, the floor will be set for moderated open discussion where any attendees could post their comments, interventions, ideas etc., on the topic to the forum.

A Q&A format will be followed during the open discussion, allowing both onsite and online participants to ask questions to the speakers. Questions can be submitted through a platform, or through an online chat feature, ensuring equal opportunities for participation. Interactive elements such as real-time polls will be incorporated, to promote engagement and enable feedback gathering from a diverse audience. The onsite moderator will probe the online and onsite attendees to feel free to contribute to the discussion, and an equal chance will be given to both online and onsite attendees. Also, the online moderator will keep the chat on Zoom live and active by stimulating conversations.

Organizers

The Dialogue
Kazim Rizvi, Founding Director - The Dialogue, Civil Society, Asia Pacific

Saksham Malik, Programme Manager - The Dialogue, Civil Society, Asia Pacific

Bhoomika Agarwal, Research Associate - The Dialogue, Civil Society, Asia Pacific

Mansi Kedia, Senior Fellow, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Civil Society, Asia Pacific

Shiva Kanwar, Research Associate, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Civil Society, Asia Pacific

Speakers

Mr Krisztian Katona, Vice President of Global Competition and Regulatory Policy, Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Industry, USA

Dr Teresa Moreira, Head, Competition and Consumer Policies Branch, UNCTAD, Inter-Governmental Organisation, EU

Mansi Kedia, Senior Fellow, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Civil Society, Asia Pacific

Catherine Tucker, Professor, Harvard Law School, Academia, USA

Onsite Moderator

Saksham Malik, Programme Manager - The Dialogue

Online Moderator

Shiva Kanwar, Research Associate, ICRIER

Rapporteur

Bhoomika Agarwal, Research Associate - The Dialogue

SDGs

8.2
8.3
9.3
9.5
9.b
16.6


Targets: Goals 8.2, 8.3, 9.5, 9.b: The session discusses means and ways through which data sharing amongst businesses could democratise innovation. Enhanced data sharing would allow a wide range of ecosystem participants to innovate. The session would also discuss the methods to build resilient digital infrastructure to facilitate data sharing among businesses and consequently innovation. Democratizing innovation through data sharing would lead to increased productivity and economic growth by providing opportunities for smaller businesses and startups to access data and participate in innovation.

Goals 8.3, 9.3: The session discusses creating opportunities for small businesses to emerge through data sharing that can contribute to reducing economic inequalities and promoting inclusive economic growth. By facilitating data sharing among businesses, valuable insights, knowledge, and resources can be exchanged, breaking down barriers to entry and levelling the playing field. This opens up opportunities for smaller businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs to access and utilize data that was previously available only to larger and more established organizations.

Goal 16.6: Different regulators including data protection regulators and antitrust regulators have jurisdiction over regulating different aspects of data. Therefore, coordination and harmonisation between different regulators would be crucial for promoting a positive-sum game through the implementation of concerted regulatory enablers. The session would discuss how effective institutions can be established by ensuring smooth and timely coordination between different institutions.