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Top antitrust enforcer warns Big Tech over data collection

FILE - In this May 10, 2017, file photo, Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division nominee Makan Delrahim testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Delrahim told an anti-trust conference at Harvard Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, that Big Data has become “the new oil” - a new kind of currency. He said antitrust enforcers cannot turn a blind eye to the serious competition questions raised by digital markets. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Justice Department’s top antitrust official is warning Big Tech that the government could pursue them for anticompetitive behaviour over their collection and commercial use of massive amounts of personal data.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim likened Big Data to “the new oil” at an antitrust conference at Harvard University on Friday.

He said antitrust enforcers cannot turn a blind eye to the serious competition questions raised by digital markets.

Delrahim did not name any specific companies. His office, however, is investigating Google while the Federal Trade Commission probes Facebook.

Delrahim said some of the most alarming legal issues raised by the rise of the digital economy are in the “collection, aggregation and commercial use of consumer data,” which he calls “analogous to a new currency.”

Frank Bajak, The Associated Press