Price setting software could breach competition law | Business Insider

Businesses using high-tech optimisation tools to analyse data and prices could inadvertently end up in breach of competition laws by swapping key information with competitors, a leading lawyer has warned.

Michael Dean, a partner in the competition team at the Glasgow office of global law firm Dentons , said that this increasingly popular software – now backed by data analysis and machine-learning systems – could, under the right circumstances, be viewed as price-fixing by competition authorities. If firms are not careful to ensure their data – in particular data driving commercial decisions – is not disclosed to any competitors, they could face serious charges.

“A European Commission investigation found that two thirds of retailers who track their competitors’ prices use automatic systems,” Dean explained. “Some also use such tools to adjust prices automatically, and several direct competitors could easily end up using the same provider. Logically, if a tool is initiating price changes in a fast-moving market it may be possible for it to be analysing the same data and providing the same pricing instructions.

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Price setting software could breach competition law – Business Insider.