China regulators point to value of big data, new technology for antitrust enforcement

10 March 2015. By MLex Staff.

Chinese antitrust regulators have stressed the importance of digital technology, including digital forensics and databases, to help its enforcement and merger review analysis.

In a recent statement, the Quanzhou Administration for Industry and Commerce said the agency was praised by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, or SAIC, for its contribution in monitoring online information and opinions regarding the agency's investigation into Microsoft.

The Quanzhou agency also participated in SAIC's investigations into Tetra Pak and Microsoft, and is tasked with doing the digital forensic work to help collect evidence.

"Big data is an important part of strengthening market supervision," SAIC said in a yearly review on Jan. 28, adding that it is emphasized the use of databases to support enforcement, and it will combine qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis in its investigations.

SAIC said it has so far generated five reports on market competition analysis, and called for the adoption of more electronic technologies to enhance enforcement.

SAIC is the watchdog for non-price related antitrust matters.
"SAIC supports and guides all local agencies to collect digital evidence in enforcement so as to effectively increase its ability to regulate through the use of modern technology," it said.

In the Tetra Pak case, SAIC said it employed legal experts, economists and related industry specialists to analyze and assess the evidence that has been gathered.

Regarding Microsoft, SAIC said it is analyzing the materials and data-haul that it has gathered, and that Microsoft had submitted related explanations and documents, as requested by the regulator.

Separately, the Ministry of Commerce, or Mofcom, the merger regulator, said in an annual work review on Jan. 29 that it has been making efforts to construct an "antitrust database information system" to help analyze mergers.

It revealed that it has begun a study into the competition conditions in the steel sector and other industries.

Since 2010, Mofcom has been constructing a database (amb.mofcom.gov.cn) to help collect data and analyze mergers.

So far, it has built up a database that covers sectors including pharmaceuticals, shipping and electronic information, according to bidding announcements for the database project.

The overall framework of the system was finalized at the end of 2011, and consists of three databases: one for macroeconomic competition, one for operational support, and one for business surveys, Mofcom said in an earlier statement.

The macroeconomic competition database collects data from the National Bureau of Statistics and contains detailed information on the top 20 companies in an industry, according to a 2011 statement by China International Electronic

Commerce Center (CIECC), which completed the earlier stage of the system design.

The operational support database contains information from domestic and international media, government websites and other sources, it said.

	Eliot Gao