Digital Legal Lab

Inge Graef focuses on competition enforcement in the digital economy. She is particularly interested in the interface between competition law and other fields of EU law such as data protection, intellectual property and electronic communications law.

Inge Graef focuses on competition enforcement in the digital economy. She is particularly interested in the interface between competition law and other fields of EU law such as data protection, intellectual property and electronic communications law.

Inge Graef focuses on competition enforcement in the digital economy. She is particularly interested in the interface between competition law and other fields of EU law such as data protection, intellectual property and electronic communications law.

Inge Graef focuses on competition enforcement in the digital economy. She is particularly interested in the interface between competition law and other fields of EU law such as data protection, intellectual property and electronic communications law.

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Inge Graef

Associate Professor at tilburg university

My research in the Digital Legal Studies network…

is centered around the notion of autonomy from the perspective of the position of businesses as well as individuals vis-à-vis digital platforms. Digital platforms are gaining an increasing level of control over our economy and society. Due to their strong positions, digital giants may distort the functioning of markets and infringe upon the freedom of choice of individuals and businesses who are vulnerable because of the power asymmetries. Digital giants are thereby able to arbitrarily impose their own rules over the competitive process, the autonomy of businesses and individuals, as well as the creativity and freedom of expression of others.

These developments raise questions at the interface of different legal regimes. On the one hand, the way in which behavioural targeting and personalisation restricts the freedom of choice of individuals does not only create data protection and consumer protection issues but can also affect the nature of competition and thereby trigger competition problems. This changes the relationship between competition, data protection and consumer law. On the other hand, the ‘gatekeeping’ nature of platforms raises questions about how to create a more level playing field and how to develop regulatory approaches to address concerns about our dependence on digital platforms that are entering an increasing number of spheres of our lives.

What I hope to achieve with my research is…

to create a more holistic view of the concerns that are at stake in the protection of the autonomy of individuals and businesses in a data-driven society. Beyond conceptualizing how practices of digital platforms erode the autonomy of individuals and businesses who are dependent on their services, I would like to explore what regulatory responses can be designed to address this issue that lies at the intersection of different legal regimes.

Our regulatory framework has become so fragmented that digital platforms can often balance the interests of individuals and businesses in ways that serve their own commercial goals. While new legislative instruments like the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act strengthen existing protections, they build on existing piecemeal approaches and may not do enough to overcome the current siloed approaches that address parts of the problem without tackling its root. As such, improved protection is not only needed from the perspective of the substance of the law but also from the perspective of effective enforcement.