The European Union loves antitrust inquiries and so it’s launching one into the entire consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector.
EU lawmakers are concerned about the huge amounts of data being collected about consumers through IoT devices.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said:
“Voice assistants and smart devices can collect a vast amount of data about our habits. And there’s a risk that big companies could misuse the data collected through such devices, to cement their position in the market against the challenges of competition.”
Around 400 questionnaires are being sent to companies operating in the IoT space around Europe, the US, and Asia, to gain intel for a public consultation set for early next year and a preliminary report to be published around the same time.
Questions will include what products the companies sell, how data is collected, used, and how money is made from that information.
While the EU is often accused of being overly heavy-handed in regulation – especially in data-heavy areas like AI, making it more difficult for European companies to compete globally – their concerns about the data being collected by IoT devices isn’t entirely unfounded.
“They might even use their knowledge of how we access other services to enter the market for those services and take it over. We have seen this type of conduct before. This is not new.
So we know there’s a risk that some of these players could become gatekeepers of the Internet of Things, with the power to make or break other companies.”
In Europe, the total number of smart home devices was around 108 million at the end of 2019 and is forecast to reach 184 million devices by 2023. The value of the smart home market is expected to almost double in the next four years to more than 27 billion Euros.