The European Commission’s decision to authorise Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn raises a number of stimulating issues that are likely to be featured in future merger reviews involving digital markets.
In examining the merger, the Commission considered big data and privacy-related concerns in professional social networks. In giving the merger the (conditional) green light, the Commission appears to have attained a balanced result. Its investigation of the potential anti-competitive effects of big data echoes the Commission’s previous decision-making practice as it reaffirms the "bundling" theory of harm. Its analysis also stresses the relevance of data privacy as a parameter of competition. The case is, therefore, an excellent opportunity to further develop the analytical framework for the competition law assessment of mergers in the information technology sector.