Dirk Bergemann, Alessandro Bonatti, Tan Gan, 26 August 2020

The rise of large digital platforms — from Facebook, Google, and Amazon in the US to JD, Tencent, and Alibaba in China — has led to the unprecedented collection and commercial use of individual data. This column argues that a central, underappreciated feature of those data is their social aspect: data captured from an individual user describe not only that individual, but other users with similar characteristics or behaviours. The policy implications of this insight include the need for privacy regulations focused less on personalised prices, and more on group-based price discrimination.

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