The UK’s data protection and competition regulators have set out their shared views on policing the digital economy – claimed to be the first agreement of its kind globally – in a move designed to protect competition in digital markets and safeguard people’s data.
The Information Commissioner’s Office and the Competition & Markets Authority affirm that rather than competition and data protection being in opposition, they are complementary agendas. The regulators have committed to work together to find regulatory solutions that achieve good competition and data protection outcomes.
The duo insists that coherent and clear regulation is vital for creating the conditions that allow new innovative services to flourish and for people to have confidence in digital services.
They argue that competitive digital markets, with coherent and well-targeted regulation, can empower consumers by giving them greater control over their personal data and driving positive competition outcomes.
The ICO and CMA are committed to continuing working together on projects that will put this joint statement into practice. They have already jumped into bed together for the CMA’s investigation into Google’s Privacy Sandbox and the ICO’s probe of real-time bidding in the adtech industry.
An updated memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the ICO and CMA sets out how the two regulators will collaborate further in future, for example through information sharing and the potential for joint projects.
This fits within a broader programme of work of the new “super regulator”, the Digital Regulatory Cooperation Forum, which sees the CMA and ICO join forces with Ofcom and the Financial Conduct Authority to support a regulatory approach across digital and online services.
Internationally, the ICO and CMA will engage with relevant organisations around the world to build consensus and promote global regulatory coherence and collaboration.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Data plays a vital role in the digital economy – from suggesting new music or films that we may enjoy to helping us find relevant information when searching online. A well-functioning digital market needs to preserve privacy and offer competitive online services, empowering consumers.
“This statement clearly shows robust data protection can support vibrant competition in digital markets, and digital firms should not use data protection as an excuse for anticompetitive behaviour. We look forward to continuing to work with the ICO to support the development of innovative digital markets that put consumers in control of their data.”
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham added: “Modern data protection regulation is a vital ingredient for a vibrant digital economy. It provides a roadmap for companies to share personal data responsibly and to innovate in a privacy friendly way. It also requires that people have control and understanding of how their data used, which is crucial for building the public trust that underpins successful digital markets.
“In our increasingly digital world the links between data protection, competition and consumer rights regulation make our joint work timely and important. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the CMA to ensure people’s data is safeguarded and digital innovation and competition is supported.”
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