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Geoffrey A. Manne headshot

President and Founder

Geoffrey A. Manne is president and founder of the International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE), a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center based in Portland, Oregon. He is also a distinguished fellow at Northwestern University’s Center on Law, Business, and Economics. Previously he taught at Lewis & Clark Law School. Prior to teaching, Manne practiced antitrust law at Latham & Watkins, clerked for Hon. Morris S. Arnold on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and worked as a research assistant for Judge Richard Posner. He was also once (very briefly) employed by the FTC. Manne holds AB & JD degrees from the University of Chicago.

Ben Sperry headshot

Associate Director, Legal Research

Ben Sperry is Associate Director of Legal Research with the International Center for Law & Economics, where he works on FTC reform, competition policy, data and privacy, telecommunications, and net neutrality. He recently returned to ICLE after spending three years in his hometown, first serving as a judicial law clerk and then as a public defender in western Pennsylvania.

Data Security

Antitrust Barriers to Entry Data Security EU Exclusionary Conduct FTC Mergers & Merger Enforcement Privacy

Scholarship

The Problems and Perils of Bootstrapping Privacy and Data into an Antitrust Framework

Summary

Increasingly, people use the internet to connect with one another, access information, and purchase products and services. Along with the growth in the online marketplace have come concerns, as well, particularly regarding both the privacy of personal information as well as competition issues surrounding this and other data.

While concerns about privacy and data are not unique to the internet ecosystem, they are in some ways heightened due to the ubiquitous nature of information sharing online. While much of the sharing is voluntary, a group of scholars and activists have argued that several powerful online companies have overstepped their bounds in gathering and using data from internet users. These privacy advocates have pushed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and regulators in Europe to incorporate privacy concerns into antitrust analysis.

We have undertaken a classification of the various proposed approaches to incorporating privacy into antitrust law elsewhere. Here, we focus on the two most-developed theories: first, that privacy should be considered in mergers and other antitrust contexts as a non-price factor of competition; and second, that the collection and use of data can be used to facilitate anticompetitive price discrimination. In addition, we analyze the underlying conception of data as a barrier to entry that is a necessary precondition for supporting either proposed theory of harm.