March 28, 2018 / 5:22 PM / 4 months ago

EU antitrust chief turns to academics to help tackle tech challenges

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who has taken on Google (GOOGL.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Qualcomm (QCOM.O) in recent years, is looking to three academics to help her deal with anti-competitive practices in fast-moving technology markets.

FILE PHOTO - European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager holds a news conference at the EU Commission's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Regulators on both sides of the Atlantic worry about the power of a few giant technology companies over businesses and users, with critics even calling for the rewriting of antitrust enforcement rules to make them more interventionist.

Others, however, say enforcers have no business predicting how new technologies should develop and where and how they should be used. U.S. Federal Trade Commission acting chairman Maureen Ohlhausen in a recent speech asked if enforcers were truly qualified to pick winners and losers in the modern economy.

Vestager said the three experts, appointed for a year, would summarise their views on the future challenges of digitisation in a report by the end of March 2019.

“Digitisation means markets are going through enormous changes – not just technology markets, but markets throughout the economy,” Vestager said in a statement on Wednesday.

“One example is how the reliance on data and artificial intelligence will further affect how companies operate and interact. Or, how customer experience is impacted by voice control. Just to name a few amongst many questions.”

The academics are Heike Schweitzer, the managing director of the Institute for German and European Economic Law, Competition Law and Regulatory Law; Jacques Cremer, a former scientific director at the Toulouse School of Economics; and Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a lecturer at Imperial College London’s Data Science Institute and Department of Computing.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter

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