Data as a means of payment

Research Group 4

The Research Group examines the usage of data in the digital economy from legal, psychological, technological as well as economic perspectives. We analyse the multitude of combinations and business models, in which both consumers and companies provide, collect, use, utilise, trade with or share (personal) data. We focus in particular on new challenges to private commercial law triggered by developments commonly referred to as “Big Data” and the “Internet of Things”.

One of the principal issues we investigate is the exchange of personal and non-personal data in return for goods and services in digital form. Especially the growing trend of consumers “selling” their data in such way is rather controversial, and answering the question whether the law should accept, support, set conditions or rather reject this form of transaction can benefit from research in the area of consumer behaviour based on the underlying cognitive and emotional-motivational, dynamic processes. Our premise is that such research can contribute to our understanding of consumer decision-making process and by extension provide a sound basis for law and policy choices.

More broadly, we look into relationships between data and law while focusing on the attempt of law to conceptualize and then regulate data and data-related activities. One central aspect of this effort is the question whether data is, or should be, the object of legal rights, for instance, property rights. Assuming that this is the case, the next question is how these rights should be recognized and how far should they reach. Our research addresses in this context the law of obligations and property law with special attention to the significance of data protection law and fundamental rights as applied to personal data premised on the individual right to self-determination.

European and German contract law provides an initial point of reference in the positive law that is facing the challenges of omnipresent digitisation. In this context, we review the Digital Single Market Strategy initiated by the European Commission as providing the regulative impetus and the ensuing legislative proposals on EU level. The legislative agenda includes the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content, where the EC confronts some of the challenges of accepting business models premised on the concept of data as counter-performance.

Our research also covers questions related to the functioning of digital markets from the perspective of competition law. In this regard, we look into definitions of a market in the data-driven economy and ask whether market failures may obstruct the operation of that market. This inquiry potentially affects the application of antitrust and unfair competition law. One of our goals is to further explore and find solutions to the tension between effective consumer protection on the one hand, and a legal environment that provides sufficient incentives for innovation and commercial competition on the other hand.


Research Group Members

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Prof. Dr. Axel Metzger

Principal Investigator

 

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Dr. Zohar Efroni

Research Group Leader

 

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Jana Pinheiro Goncalves

Research Group Assistant

 

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Jakob Metzger

Doctoral Researcher

 

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Marie Schirmbeck

Doctoral Researcher

 

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Lena Mischau

Doctoral Researcher