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European Regulation of Smartphone Ecosystems

Ronan Ó Fathaigh, Joris van Hoboken


Keywords: Privacy, Smartphones, Platforms, Governance

For the first time, two pieces of EU legislation will specifically target smartphone ecosystems in relation to smartphone and mobile software (eg, iOS and Android) privacy, and use and monetisation of data. And yet, both pieces of legislation approach data use and data monetisation from radically contrasting perspectives. The first is the proposed ePrivacy Regulation, which seeks to provide enhanced protection against user data monitoring and tracking in smartphones, and safeguard privacy in electronic communications. On the other hand, the recently enacted Platform-to-Business Regulation 2019, seeks to bring fairness to platform-business user relations (including app stores and app developers), and is crucially built upon the premise that the ability to access and use data, including personal data, can enable important value creation in the online platform economy. This article discusses how these two Regulations will apply to smartphone ecosystems, especially relating to user and device privacy. The article analyses the potential tension points between the two sets of rules, which result from the underlying policy objectives of safeguarding privacy in electronic communications and the functioning of the digital economy in the emerging era of platform governance. The article concludes with a discussion on how to address these issues, at the intersection of privacy and competition in the digital platform economy.
Keywords: Privacy, Smartphones, Platforms, Governance

Dr Ronan Ó Fathaigh, Researcher, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam; and Professor Joris van Hoboken, Senior Researcher, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, and Professor of Law, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. For correspondence: <> and <>.


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