Big Data: Antitrust, AGCOM and Garante Privacy dictate the line

What effect will Big Data have on our lives? It is a tough question to answer. We are only at phase one of a long, unstoppable process whose impact will be overwhelming and pervasive. Scholars and institutions want to predict the effects of Big Data and help communities reap more benefits than disadvantages. Big Data will not only affect the digital economy but every person, altering the makeup of societies and states.


In May 2017, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM), l’Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) and the Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante Privacy) launched a joint fact-finding investigation aimed at better understanding the implications for privacy, regulation, consumer protection, antitrust, the development of the digital economy, and, in particular, the phenomenon of Big Data.


In the past two years, the three independent authorities have held about forty hearings, questioning the main operators of the data economy, telecommunications, finance and publishing, as well as experts and academics. The contributions received have helped to understand issues related to the economic exploitation of data and the role of algorithmic profiling in online advertising markets, e-commerce portals, and platforms involving videos and search engines.


After completing their research, Antitrust, AGCOM and Privacy Guarantor published a joint document in July 2019 detailing what they expect to be the main guidelines for policy recommendations on the topic of Big Data.


In the era of Big Data, new forms of economic exploitation of data will certainly be tested, as well as new frontiers of algorithmic profiling. This is where the political responsibilities and the mission of governments, parliaments and guarantor authorities comes in. They must ensure a balanced development of the digital economy that respects citizens’ privacy and fundamental rights and freedoms, while offering full transparency and legality in the use of personal data.