The UK Government has announced the terms of reference for its expert panel review of competition and the digital economy. A number of points jump out.
First, the scope is very broad. This means the resulting report could affect many aspects of the way competition law is enforced in the digital economy, including the possibility of new enforcement powers. This also means that players in the digital economy need to make their voices heard in the panel's work as this could influence the regulatory landscape for a generation. That is not just in the UK, but abroad: the panel's views will resonate further afield and the international dimension is one express part of the review.
Secondly, amidst the broad scope, a few more specific themes crop up. These include the impact of artificial intelligence and machine-learning, already hot topics in competition circles, as well as the impact of so-called "free" services for consumers which may in fact be paid for with their data.
The expert panel’s objectives are to consider the potential opportunities and challenges the emerging digital economy may pose for competition and pro-competition policy, and to make recommendations on any changes that may be needed. [...] In particular, it will look at: the impacts of the emergence of a small number of big players in digital markets such as social media, e-commerce, search, and online advertising appropriate approaches to mergers, takeovers and anticompetitive practices in digital markets opportunities to enhance competition to increase business innovation and expand consumer choice how best to assess consumer impacts in ad-funded products and services that are “free” to consumers