EU: Facebook tells regulators “data is complicated”

Facebook has a message for regulators and policy makers concerned about the company’s harvesting of user information: don’t treat data as a simple resource like oil.
Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, said Monday that antitrust officials should be careful not to treat data like other commodities that could be monopolized, but rather as something more complex that can be shared and kept at the same time.

“We think it is legitimate to ask profound questions about how data is held,” Mr. Clegg said at a briefing with journalists on Monday. But he added that officials defining what he called the orthodoxy of competition policy should “reconfigure old concepts” and “relinquish themselves of the idea that [using data] is the same as using finite resources in finite, one-off ways.”

Mr. Clegg’s statement comes as tech companies including Facebook and Alphabet Google face growing antitrust scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic for their control and use of user data. In the US, both the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are probing the companies.

The European Commission, the European Union’s antitrust enforcer, is also in the early stages of probes into how both Google and Facebook gather and monetize data about their users for advertising purposes, according to a commission spokeswoman.

Full Content: Wall Street Journal

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