Legal AlertThe Report on Competition and Data Protection in Digital Markets: a joint statement between the CMA and the ICO (‘’the Report’’) Has Been Published!

24 May 2021

The Report on “Competition and Data Protection in Digital Markets: a joint statement between the CMA and the ICO” (“the Report”) has been published by UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) on 19.05.2021. The Report sets out how to enhance the synergies between the policy agendas and, where to identify the potential for tensions, explains how to address them. The Report focuses on three different views that are: highlighting the interactions between competition and data protection in the digital economy  synergies and potential tensions between these policy areas; how the two organizations (CMA and Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”)) are working together to maximize regulatory coherence concerning the use of personal data in digital advertising; understanding and promoting outcomes in the digital economy that simultaneously promote competition and enhance data protection and privacy rights. Highlights of the Report are as follows:

  1. Synergies and tensions between the aims of competition and data protection

The Report highlights the synergies between United Kingdom’s respective regimes before recognizing where challenges might occur.

The Report believe that there are strong synergies between competition and data protection objectives, and that many regulatory interventions in digital markets can be designed in a way that supports both objectives. These synergies can be considered under three main categories: user choice and control; standards and regulations to protect privacy; and data-related interventions to promote competition

  1. The role of clear regulation and standards to protect privacy and ensure effective competition

The Report highlights the importance of recognizing as a point of principle that data protection law and competition law complement each other in respect of achieving efficient market outcomes that involve processing personal data.

According to the Report, it is achieved by ensuring that competitive pressures help drive innovations that genuinely benefit users, rather than encouraging behavior that undermines data protection and privacy rights.

Lastly, the Report states that regulation and standards regarding the processing of personal data also serve to maintain a level playing field between competing businesses, the interests of both competition and data protection are strongly aligned.

  1. Data-related interventions to promote competition

According to the Report, data-related interventions to promote competition can be achieved through restricting access to data, or limiting the ability to combine and integrate datasets, for platforms with market power, in order to create a level playing field with other market participants.

However, it is important to pay attention to the potential efficiency costs of restricting the ability of companies to combine datasets, such interventions could in principle deliver strong synergies between the interests of competition and data protection, since they involve restricting the ability to combine and process personal data, at the same time as creating a more level playing field for all businesses to compete fairly.

  1. Outcomes:

Summary of the shared views stated by the Report are as follows:

  • Choice architecture and default settings are designed in a way that reflects users’ interests;
  • Users have more control over their personal data and can make meaningful decisions over whether to withhold access to it or share it with others;
  • Users have a real choice over platform and service providers, and can easily switch if they prefer the content, functionality, or data protection approach of an alternative provider;
  • Providers of digital services are able to compete with one another by recognizing privacy as an important aspect of quality, or alternatively by offering greater benefits to those users that permit and are comfortable with greater collection of their personal data;
  • Platforms are incentivized to innovate and develop new ways to deliver advertising that meets the targeting needs of advertisers using fewer personal data, thus protecting users’ privacy to a greater extent.

You may reach the full English version of the Report via the link below: