In a recent statement, Canada’s Competition Bureau has announced its intention to increase scrutiny on potential anti-competitive practices among enterprises in the digital economy.
The competition watchdog is appealing to businesses, industry associations and venture capital firms to share, confidentially, any knowledge they may have on how dominant companies in the digital markets may be blocking competition in online search, social media, display advertising and online marketplaces. There is growing concern over these markets becoming increasingly concentrated and monopolized.
Anti-competitive strategies may be used by companies to (1) protect themselves in their 'core' markets by attempting to prevent or interfere with the entrance of rivals and (2) capturing markets related to core markets under their control (i.e. a search engine or online marketplace favouring its own products and services over those offered by competitors). Such strategies could include:
- Refusing to deal with competitors (i.e. a social media platform providing firms that offer complementary products access to its data and subsequently removing access to offer its own competing products; an online marketplace removing products and services from its platform to bolster its own competing offerings, etc.)
- Prohibiting suppliers from providing rivals with better prices or terms (i.e. hotel-booking websites prohibiting hotels from offering better rates to competing hotel-booking websites)
- Buying out rival companies
The Competition Bureau is asking for information to be submitted by November 30 through an online form or an email address. The information may be used for future investigations and in the development of regulatory guidance for businesses operating in the digital economy.
This news comes as other jurisdictions in Europe and the US have opened their own antitrust investigations.
For more details and information about this public consultation, see the statement from the Competition Bureau here.
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