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Why Privacy Is the Future of Competition – Big Brother Watch


As the digital revolutions continues to fueled in a large part by advertising spending, a data arms race is emerging, with a handful of multi-billion dollar corporations engaged in a battle to know more about us — and therefore better target adverts — than their competitors.

This race to the bottom, where respecting consumer privacy is an obstacle to greater profit is the stark reality of a digital world where services are free and data is valuable. We are not customers, but a product, to be repackaged and marketed to the highest bidder.

Last week’s letter details how Google currently controls 90% of the search market in Europe and around 50% of the smartphone operating system market. Combine that with details on billions of YouTube views, Gmails, websites visited where analytics software is installed and the full suite of Google services and you have an incredible wealth of data.

If more data means higher profits, or simply holding your own in the face of aggressive competitors, how do we protect privacy? By ensuring properly competitive markets. If data protection regulators cannot stop the collection of vast amounts of data — a test failed long ago — then competition regulators must step up to protect consumers. Limiting data collection and processing prevents one firm reaching the position where privacy regulator action becomes a cost of doing business, a price for staying on top.


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