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Digital markets are affecting many aspects of our lives, transforming products, services, terms of trade, and even employment markets. The rising importance of big data, algorithmic decision-making, and online platforms create complex regulatory challenges for ensuring that the digital markets increase welfare. Competition law has an important role to play in this digital eco-system. Accordingly, this subject explores the complex challenges that digital markets pose to competition law. To do so, this subject will first analyze the unique characteristics of the digital environment and how they affect market dynamics. It will then analyze the main challenges to competition law, including coordination through algorithmic interactions, market power based on big data, abusive conduct by platforms and intermediaries, and defining markets and market power in digital eco-systems. It will also explore the intersection between competition, consumer protection and privacy, which is raising important institutional questions for the allocation and coordination of regulatory responses. This subject will explore global developments in this complex and fast-moving field. Drawing on the latest literature and major cases and inquiries, it will equip students to critically engage with and meet the challenges posed for business and its advisors and for policymakers, regulators and law enforcers in digital markets.
This subject is led by two of the world’s competition law experts, with particular expertise in the regulation of digital markets.
Principal topics will include:
- Analysing the special characteristics of digital markets and the unique market dynamics they create, including:
- Defining Big Data
- Analysing the dynamics of Big Data markets, including entry barriers and network effects
- Exploring advancements in algorithmic decision-making, including machine learning and deep learning
- Debating the competitive significance of algorithmic decision-making based on Big Data
- Exploring the role of digital intermediaries, including platforms, in the digital eco-system
- Analysing the unique challenges that digital markets pose to competition law enforcement, including:
- Increased coordination through algorithmic interactions
- Market power based on big data
- Abusive conduct by platforms and intermediaries
- Defining markets and market power in digital eco-systems
- Big Data and merger review
- Challenges created by the bundling of different products and services in the digital eco-system
- Analysing the intersection between competition, consumer protection and privacy
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students will:
- have an advanced and integrated understanding of the nature and significance of the characteristics and dynamics of digital markets, their related technologies, and the actors in this eco-system for competition policy and law;
- be able to critically examine and analyse the application of competition law tools to business strategies and transactions in digital markets;
- be an informed and engaged participant in important debates about the effects of Big Data, algorithmic decision-making and digital platforms in competition policy and law and the need to adapt rules and tools to accommodate this role;
- have sophisticated cognitive and technical skills that equip them to apply and communicate their learning in the contexts of merger review, abuse of dominance and collusion;
- appreciate the institutional synergies and tensions between the fields of competition, consumer protection and privacy as policy and regulatory responses in digital markets; and
- have an advanced capacity to use the knowledge and skills students have gained in the subject in a way that demonstrates effective autonomy, judgment, adaptability and responsibility as an expert learner and practitioner in the field of global competition and consumer law.
Last updated: 28 September 2023