Dnes on Browser Tying and Data Privacy Innovation

Stephen Dnes (Northeastern University) has posted “Browser Tying and Data Privacy Innovation” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This paper explores the role of the browser in relation to competition for advertising. It explores the important role of the browser in collecting and transmitting data to servers via data storage and transmission functions, the mechanisms by which these data flows are enabled, and some of the competing uses for which these data flows are used on the server side. This reveals the need for server-side processing of some information.

In this context, profound concerns are raised that technological tying will imminently undermine competition and innovation in digital markets via browser-based restrictions. Indeed, there are proposals for de facto vertical integration of significant browser and server functionality under proposals from Apple and Google, which will strongly favour vertically integrated solutions (the so-called “walled gardens”). Both proposals are restrictive, but Google’s appear to go even further than Apple in its tying proposals, without justification.

The paper concludes with some possible remedies to prevent anti-competitive technological tying of browser and server functionality. Indeed, there is an acute need to use established competition law tools to prevent anti-competitive foreclosure from locking down the browser.