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Browsing by Author "Olsson, Onni"

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  • Olsson, Onni (2021)
    The growing volume and importance of data have benefited consumers in the form of new technological innovations. By collecting large amounts of data, big technology companies have been able to improve their services, for example through machine learning and artificial intelligence, but at the same time they have limited competition in the digital markets. The characteristics of digital markets, such as network effects and the tipping effect, have allowed Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, among others, to become gatekeepers of their respective markets. The concentration of data to a few companies has made it difficult for smaller competitors to develop competitive products and services and may have effectively prevented them from entering the market. To address this imbalance, it has been proposed, inter alia, to impose data sharing obligations on gatekeeper firms. The aim of my thesis is to assess what kind of competition remedy data sharing could be in the digital markets. For example, a data sharing obligation could be imposed under the so-called essential facilities doctrine (EFD) where a dominant company refuses to provide data to a competitor in an adjacent market. The doctrine was originally developed in the United States and has been applied mainly to physical infrastructures. The sharing obligation is assessed based on criteria developed in the case law. The criteria assess the impact of the refusal to supply on competition in the adjacent market, the objective justification for the refusal, the indispensability of the facility and the impact of the refusal on technological development. The application of the criteria in the digital markets has proved challenging, leading to calls for the abandonment of the doctrine and the development of a new set of criteria better suited to the digital markets. In addition, the imposition of an obligation to share data has been seen as posing practical problems, for example in terms of data protection and data portability. In my thesis, I have examined various alternative methods that could be used in addition to or instead of the doctrine. The ability of the competition authorities to intervene in the activities of companies in a gatekeeper position on the dynamic and fast-paced digital markets has been questioned. Also, it has been suggested that legislative solutions would be a more effective way of imposing data sharing obligations. The case law and literature analysed in the thesis show that the role of competition authorities, especially in the current transition phase, is crucial. The evidence also shows that data sharing is practically possible, as long as companies are required to comply with data protection legislation and to enable data portability when imposing data sharing obligations. One of the tools used by competition authorities is the EFD. Despite the criticisms it has received, the material in the thesis demonstrates the usefulness of the EFD also in the competition law of the digital markets. However, its use requires a more flexible application of the doctrine and a consideration of the specific characteristics of digital markets, such as the versatile possibilities of data usage.