ELI Digital Law SIG Held a Second Seminar in its Speaker Series


On 25 May 2022, the ELI Digital Law SIG held the second seminar in its Speaker Series entitled ‘Narrowing Data Protection’s Enforcement Gap’. The seminar was delivered by Filippo Lancieri (Postdoctoral Fellow at the ETH Zurich Center for Law and Economics).

The focus of the online seminar was the research paper that carries the same name, which can be found here. The article explores the enforcement gap in data protection—that is, a wide disparity between stated protection in the books and the reality of how companies respond to them on the ground.

Lancieri referred to a literature review of 26 studies analysing the impact on the ground of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), emphasising that none found a meaningful improvement in citizen's data privacy. It then describes and analyses the three core building blocks of data protection regimes in the United States and Europe – namely, market forces, tort liability and regulatory enforcement. He spoke of two key reasons – particularly deep information asymmetries between companies and consumers/regulators, and high levels of market power in many data markets – that enable companies to behave strategically to protect private interests and undermine legal compliance. Finally, he concluded by looking at the institutional design of antitrust and anti-fraud laws, two regulatory regimes that face similar challenges in their implementation, to argue for a redesign of data protection enforcement regimes.