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Big Data: guidelines and recommendation

A brief summary of the interdisciplinary fact-finding investigation jointly conducted by the Italian Data Protection Authority, the Competition and Market Authority and the Communication Authority.

On May 20th, 2017, the Italian Data Protection Authority, the Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees and the Italian Competition and Market Authority jointly launched an interdisciplinary fact-finding investigation to gain an in-depth understanding of the Big Data phenomenon, focusing in particular on the following aspects: the implications for the protection of personal data of the interested parties, the Italian regulation, consumer protection and antitrust profiles, as well as the development of the digital economy. The survey involved interviews with the main players in the data economy, telecommunications, financial and publishing sectors, as well as experts and academics, for a total of 40 hearings. In particular, in the final part of the document, a common strategy is outlined by the three Authorities, in order to try to ensure greater protection of the personal data of the interested parties, while taking into account the implications related to big data.

The final document, which will collect the final reports of the three Authorities, will be available shortly.

In the meantime, the main guidelines for cooperation on the subject have been published, as well as the policy recommendations shared by the three authorities. From the examination of the eleven recommendations, it emerges that the phenomenon of Big Data certainly deserves great attention from all the institutions that contribute to defining the governance of the market. According to these guidelines, the Government and Parliament have a responsibility to ensure the balanced development of the digital economy while respecting fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects, and to verify the necessity to promote an appropriate regulatory framework. In this regard, the need to find the right balance between fundamental rights and pluralism of information is underlined. Coordination between European competition authorities is also hoped for, as well as the promotion of a single, transparent policy on the extraction, accessibility and use of public data to determine public policies for the benefit of businesses and citizens. The objective of reducing the information asymmetry between users and digital operators in the data collection phase is also mentioned. The aim is then to strengthen the powers to acquire information from the Italian Authority for Communications Guarantees and the Italian Competition and Market Authority outside the preliminary proceedings (investigations, pre-instructive activities), also providing for the possibility of imposing administrative sanctions in cases of refusal or delay in providing the information requested or in the presence of misleading or omissive information, in order to allow a full understanding of the new phenomena taking place in the digital economy.

Finally, it is important to note the intention to establish a permanent coordination between the three authorities. (link)