November 26, 2020 - December 10, 2020

Taking on Big Tech: The Fight for Digital Rights

Digital Freedom Fund’s first ever Speakers Series will run throughout November and December 2020, and will explore the key role of competition law in protecting digital rights. The series will feature preeminent speakers including Dr Niamh Dunne, Dr Miriam Buiten, and Dr Konstantinos Stylianou.

Image License: CC BY-SA 4.0/ Designed by DFF

Reining in Big Tech: How competition law can help protect digital rights


  • 26 November, 17:00 CET/11:00 EST


Over the last 10 years, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have become the biggest companies on the planet. They wield unprecedented power. Many fear that they control people’s most personal data, distort democratic processes, hamper nascent innovation, and perpetuate an oligopolistic market structure. Around the world, competition authorities are investigating these claims.

Dr Konstantinos Stylianou will explore whether and how competition law can address these concerns. He will examine crucial questions, such as: why have regulators been so slow to keep this power in check? How do tech giants typically justify their conduct in the face of such damning criticisms? And, ultimately, if competition law is failing us right now, can it – and should it – play a new, more effective role in the digital economy?

Dr Konstantinos Stylianou is an associate professor in Competition Law and Regulation and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Business Law and Practice at the University of Leeds.

More information and registration.

Did Germany really just outlaw Facebook’s business model?! Understanding the impact of the Federal Supreme Court decision


  • 3 December, 17:00 CET/11:00 EST


In a key moment for digital rights advocates around the world, Germany’s highest court provisionally confirmed in June 2020 that Facebook had abused its dominant market position with its data collection and exploitation practices. The court sided with the German competition regulator, at least temporarily, in its decision ordering Facebook to stop integrating data from third-party sources without consent.So, how big of a deal is this ruling really? The case has prompted critical questions about the boundaries between competition law and data protection law in reining in shady/illicit data collection by Big Tech and other powerful platforms. Dr Miriam Buiten will discuss if the recent decision reopened the way for regulating data protection concerns under competition law, the role of competition law in “zero price” markets, and where we should go from here

Dr Miriam Buiten is an Assistant Professor of Law and Economics at the University of St. Gallen.

More information and registration.

Learning from the landmark Microsoft and Google Shopping cases: What do they mean for Big Tech today?


  • 10 December, 17:00 CET/11:00 EST


In 2004, the EU slapped Microsoft with what was then the biggest fine in its history: the tech giant had to pay nearly EUR 500 million for abusing its “near monopoly” in PC operating systems.

Several years later, the General Court of the EU upheld this decision, amongst others finding that Microsoft was blocking competitors out of the market by refusing to supply interoperability information and by tying its Media Player with Windows. What impact has this case had on regulating the digital economy and what is the legacy of the case when it comes to how competition law is interpreted and applied to Big Tech today?

Thomas Vinje, who has been involved in many of Europe’s landmark competition law cases, including the recent Google Search (Shopping) and Google Android cases before the European Commission, will reflect on some of the lessons he has taken from this litigation experience, and share his views on where we might be going next with competition enforcement in the digital context.  Among other things, he will provide some reflections on global and in particular cross-Atlantic technology antitrust currents.

Thomas Vinje is a partner at Clifford Chance and Co-Chair of its Global Antitrust Group.