Many transactions in the digital economy involve barter: consumers of digital services get many digital services for free (or under-priced) and in return have personal information about themselves collected - for free. However, it is often completely non-transparent to the user, which data is collected and what it is used for. In fact, personal data provided under such opaque conditions is often aggregated and "exploited" by algorithms to (re)direct attention and manipulate users' choices. Furthermore, the power arising from the network effects of so-called gatekeeper platforms raises several further problems with regard to competition and inclusivity. At the same time, the innovations by platforms bring many benefits to the economy in terms of efficiency or productivity, especially in times of pandemic. Thus, it is paramount to find ways to protect privacy and consumer rights without suffocating the innovative potential of the digital industry. This issue is a global one as data exchange regularly happens across borders. Regulatory inconsistencies should be avoided so as to ensure a level playing field globally and to fully tap the potential of the digital world. This session will provide ideas for an economically efficient agenda to ensure consumer protection in the digital realm.
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