Briefing

Competition Bureau announces plans to scale up digital enforcement

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The federal antitrust watchdog’s strategic vision for 2020 to 2024 includes using advanced analytics and AI to “detect potential anti-competitive activity earlier,” and setting up a dedicated office to support its adoption of technology. It will continue to focus on the telecommunications, health and infrastructure sectors, as announced in its annual plan for the current fiscal year, as well as online marketing and financial services. (The Logic)

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Talking point: This agenda reflects the growing emphasis on technology files in the agency’s proactive enforcement efforts. In July 2019, it hired industry executive George McDonald as chief digital enforcement officer; that September, it started filling up his inbox by soliciting reports of anti-competitive behaviour in areas like social media, search and e-commerce. But most tech giants’ mega-acquisitions and deals that increase their market share or reach occur outside Canada, and domestic regulators have limited power over them. Competition commissioner Matthew Boswell has emphasized the need for international cooperation, and to that end, the bureau will host an annual digital enforcement summit.