On 16 July 2020, the European Commission launched a sector inquiry into antitrust issues related to the Internet of Things (IoT) for consumer-related goods and services in the European Union (EU).
In the coming weeks, active players in the IoT sector will be required to contribute to the Commission’s inquiry by providing information, documents or statements, as foreseen under EU competition rules.
Consumer goods and services that are connected to a network and can be controlled remotely, for example through a mobile device, will be investigated. The sector inquiry will provide information on wearable devices (such as smart watches) and connected household devices (e.g. fridges, smart TVs), but also on services available via smart devices such as music and video streaming.
While a considerable growth of the IoT for consumers is expected in the coming years, the risks presented by access to large amounts of user data in this sector need to be monitored. The market information gathered will provide insight into the nature and effects of potential competition concerns identified in the sector and, if relevant, will lead the Commission to initiate new antitrust proceedings. In particular, the competition structure may be structurally distorted by commercial practices aimed at restricting access to data. The strength of network effects in this sector will also be taken into account.
This inquiry, which is fully in line with the Commission's digital strategy, is expected to result in the publication of a preliminary report in the spring of 2021, which will be submitted to broad consultation. The final report is announced for summer 2022.
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