Japan considers tough anti-monopoly rules on data

Japan is considering tough new rules on handling data in an effort to head off digital monopolies, the country’s top competition regulator has said. In an interview with the Financial Times, Kazuyuki Sugimoto, head of the Japan Fair Trade Commission, said the issue of data was “crucial” for competition policy given the rise of digital groups such as Facebook, Google and Uber. A recent JFTC study group suggested blocking mergers that monopolise data; requiring changes in corporate privacy policies; banning digital platforms from collecting unnecessary customer data; and prosecuting companies that keep essential data from the competition. Mr Sugimoto’s comments add to the global debate about how to tackle companies that gain market power by amassing data. The European Union recently hit Google with a €2.42bn antitrust fine for abusing its dominance in internet search. Google is disputing the finding. Concern about digital competition is acute in Europe and Japan because their markets are dominated by foreign companies. The JFTC is likely to produce formal guidelines in the months ahead. “One of the biggest objectives of competition policy is to promote innovation,” said Mr Sugimoto. “If data is used to restrict competition then innovation will be obstructed as well.” One concern at…

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