Competition and Data Pools
In the Internet of Things (IoT), the amount and smart use of data will determine whether or not a firm can compete successfully. Firms, at least SMEs, will likely store their collected data in the cloud, purchasing cloud services and storage from the large e-platform providers doubling as cloud providers. Access to the cloud and to data analytics on fair business terms, and the possibility to switch cloud and service providers are vital for the SMEs and, in general, to create a competitive and vibrant IoT. However, cloud customers seem to be facing difficulties. According to the EU Commission, SMEs are finding it particularly hard to engage cloud providers, and to gain access to cloud services on reasonable, transparent terms. The contracts are skewed in favour of the cloud providers. The customers get locked in and may be obliged to agree not to assert any of their intellectual property rights vis-a-vis the cloud provider or the cloud provider’s network. Moreover, the cloud providers may under certain circumstances access and make use of the users’ data in the cloud, and that may put them in competitive advantage vis-a`-vis the cloud users since the cloud providers may have access to much more data even data originating from the cloud users’ competitors, suppliers, customers, etc. They can thus use all data available to them to obtain fuller picture of whole industries, and that may use that advantage in data to leverage and enter cloud customers markets. Indeed, they may use the data in the cloud for data-driven business strategies to enter the core market of the firms that haveprovided them with data in the first place. This article discusses whether competition law can address the conduct of the cloud providers, so that firms may access and make use of all the possibilities that the IoT harbours
Journal of European Consumer and Market Law. 2018. Vol. 7. No. 4. P. 146-154.