The New Oil?

By | May 5, 2017

In this week’s Economist (the UK-based weekly magazine) the cover illustration heralds a leader column describing Data as the new Oil.

The parallel is not entirely sound – a natural resource that could eventually be exhausted is very different from new resources that are multiplying – but, suggests the author, governments should be concerned about the impotence of current antitrust policies.

There’s no doubt about the market dominance of a few tech giants such as Amazon and Google but few citizens feel disadvantaged by, for example, free search engines or shopping convenience.  They may however have deeper concerns as they realise the extent of these giants’ “God’s eye view” of every aspect of their lives.

From a policy perspective the author offers two suggestions – a smarter approach to identifying potential dominance and greater transparency – but also the thought that governments themselves can be more-trusted players in these new information markets.

‘Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon.’