The Impulse to Condemn the Strange: Assessing Big Data in Antitrust


An emerging refrain in antitrust dialog is that the accumulation and use of big data is a unique and particularly troublesome entry barrier, worthy of antitrust scrutiny. Yet, it seems that both the concept of big data and entry barriers continue to be used in a highly casual and superficial manner. In this article, we argue that big data should properly be considered a two-stage process. In stage one, a firm collects the data. In stage two, a firm transforms the data into some benefit that ultimately increases profitability. We also discuss whether big data should be considered an entry barrier, which, in a broad and abstract sense, measures the relative difficulty of obtaining necessary inputs to production.