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Assessment of data protection implications in M&A transactions – possible new requirement

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB), the independent body in charge of the application of data protection rules throughout the European Union, has recently issued a statement on the data protection impacts of economic concentrations, in the context of the European Commission’s intention to analyse the effects and impact of the proposed acquisition of Shazam by Apple from the perspective of concentration of commercially sensitive data about customers.

EDPB states that data protection and privacy interests of individuals are relevant to any assessment of significant merger transactions, particularly in the technology sectors of the economy. In EDPB’s view, the impact of transactions on data protection and, more generally, on individuals’ privacy, freedom of expression and choice could be scrutinized by the data protection authorities, either independent from or as part of the analysis carried out by the competition authorities during their merger control review.

Depending on the practical effects and consequences of the EDPB’s statement, certain M&A transactions, particularly in technology sectors of the economy, may be impacted by the need for assessment of data protection and privacy rights implications by the relevant authorities and, further on, by restrictions or remedies imposed thereby in order to clear the transactions.

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