EU Commissioner Warns Companies of Potentially Unlawful Use of Pricing Algorithms | The National Law Review
Commissioner Vestager’s speech comes amidst increased enforcement into online practices and mirrors the concerns and recent enforcement activity by national competition authorities. In August 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority issued an infringement decision against two online sellers of poster and frames for using automated re-pricing software to implement their price-fixing agreement. The German and French competition authorities published a joint paper last year on data and competition, which considered the potential competition law concerns raised by algorithms.
At EU level, Thomas Kramler, the Commission official leading the e-commerce sector inquiry, had noted last year that the use of software could be a serious potential concern for antitrust authorities. Earlier this year, the Commission launched a formal investigation examining whether four companies breached EU competition law by limiting the ability of retailers to set their own prices for consumer electronics. At the heart of the Commission’s concerns in this case is that the use of price-monitoring software facilitated the implementation of the alleged resale price maintenance (read our update on this case here).
In light of these developments, it is increasingly important for businesses to review their use of price-monitoring tools and ensure that their online practices are compliant with EU competition law. It is also of critical importance for companies to receive competition law advice on how to minimise competition law risks relating to the use of algorithms and automated pricing systems.
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