Data portability has been identified as a procompetitive measure to empower consumers to choose among competing providers. Specifically, data portability could theoretically reduce the switching costs consumers face, for example if they must reproduce all of the information and content inputted into a digital content platform whenever they switch providers. If consumers are able to bring their data with them, new firm entry and thus greater contestability could be possible. Data portability can also enable comparison services in markets with complex pricing structures.
Interoperability, on the other hand, can promote competition by allowing different systems to communicate with one another. This can include standards that enable real-time data sharing across services (e.g. cross-posting social media content on multiple platforms), and those that enable the combination of functionalities (e.g. having a single account log-in across multiple different online services). Interoperability can make multi-homing easier by allowing consumers to use multiple competing or complementary services through a single access point. This could ensure network effects are preserved while potentially addressing barriers to entry and promoting competition in a market.
In June 2021, the OECD held a discussion exploring the numerous challenges involved in the implementation of both data portability and interoperability measures. The discussion tried to tackle, first, the question of whether these measures are in fact effective in promoting competition – particularly if they are designed with other objectives in mind, such as data protection. Second, the discussion explored different mechanisms for implementing these measures, whether through competition enforcement, merger reviews, or ex ante regulation. Third, the legal, technical and practical challenges associated with implementing these measures.
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Full list of best practice roundtables on competition
Michal Gal Bio
Professor and Director of the Forum on Law and Markets, Haifa University
Inge Graef Bio
Associate Professor of Competition Law, Tilburg University
Emily Hart Bio
Chief Operating Officer, MotionMobs
Jan Krämer Bio
Professor of Information Systems and Chair of Internet and Telecommunications Business, University of Passau, and Academic Co-Director at the Centre on Regulation in Europe
Peter Swire Bio
Professor of Law and Ethics, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business and Associate Director for Policy of the Georgia Tech Institute for Information Security and Privacy
OECD Background Note (French version also available)
Executive Summary with key findings EN | FR
Detailed Summary of the discussion EN | FR
Contributions from delegations
Emily Hart shares how interoperability and portability measures might affect start-ups
Inge Graef explains how data portability regulations should be designed to promote competition
Jan Krämer on how data portability can affect competition
Michal Gal describes the role of data portability and interoperability in antitrust enforcement
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Competition economics of digital ecosystems (2021)
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Conglomerate effects of mergers (2020)
Big data: bringing competition policy to the digital era (2016)
OECD Handbook on Competition Policy in the Digital Age
FTC Workshop on Data Portability: Materials, Summary
Data governance: Enhancing access to and sharing of data
OECD best practice roundtables on competition