MAGKS Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics No. 14-2021
Can competition law also take into account effects on privacy or should privacy concerns of data-collecting behaviour only be dealt with by data protection law? In this paper we are analysing the German Facebook case, in which certain terms of service (that force consumers to give consent for merging personal data collected through Facebook services with those collected from tracking and third-party websites) were prohibited as exploitative abuse of a dominant firm. We show from an economic perspective that due to the simultaneous existence of two market failures (market dominance, information and behavioral problems) and complex interaction effects between both market failures and both policies in digital markets, the traditional approach of a strict separation of both policies is not possible any more, leading to the need for more collaboration and alignment of both policies. With respect to the substantive question of protecting a minimum level of choice options for consumers regarding personal data vis-a-vis dominant digital platform firms, the recent decision of the German Federal Court of Justice in the Facebook case and the proposed Digital Market Act have opened new perspectives for dealing with privacy concerns in competition law and regulation.
competition law Facebook digital platforms privacy data protection law