Big Data Mergers: Bridging the Gap for an Effective Merger Control Framework


Kalpana Tyagi


The emergence of multi-sided platforms, connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) has turned us into a valuable information asset, whereby data about our tastes and preferences as a consumer can be ‘commoditised’. Even though ‘data’ is the key to competition, and thereby ensures competitiveness across markets – as diverse from retail to healthcare, from taxi rides to air travel, thanks to the uberisation of the economy – this valuable reservoir of information is controlled by a handful of Information Technology (IT) firms. Remarkably noteworthy is the fact that a significant proportion of the growth of these IT companies is not organic; instead, most of their valuable innovations have been acquired inorganically through acquisitions! Against this dynamic backdrop, this paper addresses the following research questions. First, what are the potential suitable tests for the notification of a transaction, and what factors must be taken into consideration for the selection of a particular test over others? Second, how can competition authorities innovate as regards the ‘theory of harm’? In other words, what should be the design and construct of a theory that can effectively capture the novel concerns in big data mergers? Here, the discussion is not just limited to ‘privacy’ as a dimension of competition, but also other areas of concern – such as non-horizontal effects in big data mergers. Finally, the paper very briefly discusses key factors to be taken into consideration for designing effective remedies.


How to Cite
Tyagi, K. (2020). Big Data Mergers: Bridging the Gap for an Effective Merger Control Framework. Competition Commission of India Journal on Competition Law and Policy, 1, 29–52.


  1. Arthur, W.B. (1983). On Competing Technologies and Historical Small Events: The Dynamics of Choice Under Increasing Returns. IIASA Working Paper,WP-83-090, IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria. accessed 5 December 2019.
  2. Bose, A. (2014, March 2). Why India’s Antitrust Body Should Scrutinize the WhatsApp Buy. The Business Standard(Online). accessed 6 December 2019.
  3. Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (2019a). 9. GWB-Novelle- ein modernes Wettbewerbsrecht im Zeitalter der Digitaliseirung.
  4. Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (2019b, September 9). Ein neuer Wettbewerbsrahmen für die Digitalwirtschaft: Bericht der Kommission Wettbewerbsrecht 4.0. accessed 6 December 2019.
  5. Budzinski, O. and Stöhr, A. (2018). Competition Policy Reform in Europe and Germany – Institutional Change in the Light of Digitalization. Ilmenau Economics Discussion Papers, No. 117, 28. 6 December 2019.
  6. Crémer, J. Montjoye, Yves-Alexandre de and Schweitzer, H. (2019). Competition Policy for the Digital Era: Final Report. European Commission, 112-113. 6 December 2019.
  7. Devlin, A. and Jacobs, M. (2010). Antitrust Error. William & Mary Law Review,52, 179 seq.
  8. Eisenmann, T.R., Parker, G. and Alstyne, M.W.V. (2010, July 27). Platform Envelopment. Harvard Business School Working Paper 07-104.Final updated version published in Strategic Management Journal, 32(12).
  9. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (2017, June 9). Germany: Ninth Amendment of the Act against Restraints of Competition enters into force. Policy Briefing(Online). 6 December 2019.
  10. Federal Trade Commission. (2018, January 29). Notice Federal Trade Commission: Revised Jurisdictional Thresholds for Section 7A of the Clayton Act. Federal Register,83 (19). jurisdiction_7a_1-29-18.pdfaccessed 6 December 2019.
  11. Filistrucchi, F., Geradin, D. and Damme, Eric van. (2013). Identifying Two-Sided Markets. World Competition,36(1), 33–59.
  12. Furman, J. (2019, March). Unlocking Digital Competition: Report of the Digital Competition Expert Panel. Independent Report prepared for the HM Treasury, Government of UK, 22-24.
  13. Hatton, C., Gabathuler, D. and Lichy, A. (2018, February). Digital Markets and Merger Control in the EU: Evolution, not Revolution? Competition Policy International’s Antitrust Chronicle,6,7.
  14. Ibitoye, V. and Ebersole, J. (2018, September 7). Facebook, Instagram clearance may have been ‘naïve’, CMA boss says. MLex: Market Insights(Online).,-instagram-clearance-may-have-been-naive,-cma-boss-says accessed 6 December 2019.
  15. Hill, K. (2012, February 16). How Target Figured Out a Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did. Forbes(Online). accessed 6 December 2019.
  16. Kendall, B., McKinnon, J.D. and Tracy, R. (2020, September 15). FTC Preparing Possible Antitrust Suit Against Facebook. Wall Street Journal. Available at:
  17. Khan, A. P. and Chand, A. (2018, September 9). Disruptive Innovation – Is it time for a Detailed Competition Scrutiny Yet? Fortune India(Online). accessed 6 December 2019.
  18. Lemley, M. (2015). IP in a World Without Scarcity. New York University Law Review, 90. id=2413974accessed 13 August 2019.
  19. Monopolkommission (2015, June 1). Wettbewerbspolitik: Herausforderung digitale Märkte. Sondergutachten 68 der Monopolkommission gemäβ §§ Abs. 1 Satz 4 GWB (Bonn/Berlin). accessed 6 December 2019.
  20. Parker, G.G., Alstyne, M.W.V. and Chaudhary, S.P. (2016). Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy – And How to Make Them Work for You. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  21. Reinart, S. (2017, June 21). European Union: Significant Changes to Austrian Competition Law. Mondaq(Online). accessed 6 December 2019.
  22. Schöning, F. and Ritz, C. (2018, February). Mergers in the Digital Economy: A Practitioners’ Outlook on Key Merger Control Aspects of Big Data and Innovation in the Digital Market. CPI Antitrust Chronicle(Online). 6 December 2019.
  23. Swire, P. (2007, October 19). Protecting Consumers: Privacy Matters in Antitrust Analysis. (Online). Center for American Progress. accessed 6 December 2019.
  24. Tracy, R. (2020, September 30). House Democrats to Call for Big Tech Breakups. Wall Street Journal,
  25. Tyagi, K. (2019a). Promoting Competition in Innovation Through Merger Control in the ICT Sector: A Comparative and Interdisciplinary Study.Springer Verlag 1 edition.
  26. Tyagi, K. (2019b). Merger Control in the telecom industry: a landscape transformed. Journal of Business Strategy, accessed 6 December 2019.
  27. Tyagi, K. (2019c, October 4). What’s the Deal? – Dial M for Merger. India Business Law Journal, accessed 5 December 2019.
  28. Tyagi, K. (2020). Contours of an Effective Competition Policy: Promoting Europe ‘as a’ Digital Champion (and ‘not’ European Champions). EU China Observer,