The first-ever virtual ICN Annual Conference will take place from 14-17 September 2020. Our joint virtual hosts, the US DoJ and US FTC, together with the ICN Working Group Co-chairs have organized a compact conference week and a series of additional sessions that are linked to the main conference week but will take place later this year. The conference is open to all ICN member agencies and NGAs. Registration is not required.

Invitation letter to ICN Member AgenciesA link to attend each session will be provided the day of the sessionSee ICN's 2020 Work Product

Conference Programming Preview

Conference Agenda -- click for PDF

The digital age represents new challenges not only for enforcement, but also for advocacy. This plenary will explore how agencies can meet these competition advocacy challenges using a mix of strategies and tactics. Panelists will present concrete examples and discuss approaches to address specific competition advocacy challenges arising from digital markets, such as data privacy, consumer empowerment, and technical industry knowledge. Questions that will be addressed include: What specific advocacy tools, tactics, competencies or technology can be used to improve the effectiveness of competition advocacy in digital markets, and to address issues and bridge the knowledge gap arising from digital markets? How should a competition agency leverage non-competition issues (e.g., consumer rights, privacy, media plurality, access to digital services, etc.) to strengthen competition advocacy in digital markets? What are the new relationships an agency needs to develop on the advocacy front for digital markets, and how can an agency work with these new and existing partners (e.g., public bodies/ academics/ external resources/joint cross-border advocacy efforts with other competition agencies) for effective advocacy in digital markets? And, what are the specific issues that arise from AI/Algorithms that require an advocacy response, for example outreach, proposing new regulations, how can we respond and what are the experiences?

This plenary session will focus on how digitalisation is affecting the design and make-up of competition authorities. Discussion topics will include the creation of digital teams and units, the recruitment of non-traditional staff, new demands on staff to be tech-savvy, and innovative approaches implemented to make competition agencies “digitally ready.”

At the last annual conference, digitalization and the evolution of merger analysis was a topic of much discussion. Since then, there have been further developments in the analysis, and digital mergers are still drawing much attention from agencies and NGAs. The speakers on this panel will explore how agencies are dealing with mergers in digital markets and discuss “hot topics,” highlighting key issues raised during the Working Group’s webinar series on digital mergers.  These issues include characteristics of digital mergers (network effects, non-price effects, nascent competition, and conglomerate mergers), notification thresholds, market definition, the counterfactual, theories of harm, and merger remedies in the digital economy. Finally, the panel will discuss the scope for international cooperation in this area.

This session will discuss objectives, design, implementation and monitoring of remedies, including injunctive relief and interim measures in unilateral conduct cases in digital markets. The panel will give particular attention to remedies in zero-price markets and in nascent or fast evolving high-tech markets. Speakers will discuss the suitability of behavioural and structural remedies and explore the experience of ICN members imposing and monitoring such measures. It will address the question of whether and/or how designing and monitoring remedies in digital markets differs from designing and monitoring remedies in traditional markets and identifying the challenges faced in digital markets (if any). The panel then will focus on procedural aspects, e.g., when and how the discussion on remedies starts, the involvement of the parties in the process and how parties contribute to identifying the most appropriate remedies.

The collection and processing of a large volume of data is a defining feature of today’s digitalized economy. With the increasing role of big data on business strategies, everyone from competition enforcers and lawyers to academics and economists have sought to assess its impact in cartel enforcement. Can big data and algorithms be used to implement new forms of cartels or to facilitate market coordination? Is competition law well-equipped in the fight against cartels in the digital era? Can competition enforcers also use big data to enhance their detection capabilities? As academics conduct studies to examine these issues and enforcers around the world experiment with new tools, now is an exciting time to discuss the interplay between big data and cartelization.

The NGA Engagement session will discuss how NGAs contribute to the production, promotion and implementation of ICN work products, and will provide an opportunity for members and NGAs to share their experience with NGA engagement.

The session will present the progress made on the implementation of the Bridging Project since its launch in December 2019. The session will include experiences and learnings from the Steering Group Members and Young and Small Agencies involved in the first pilot of the Project. It will also provide the opportunity to present areas of improvement for the Project and potential ideas for further engagement of all members into the ICN.

As many agencies have declared digital economy cases to be an area of priority and focus for the years ahead, what are the opportunities and challenges for economic analyses of this sector? This session will provide perspectives from economists on their role in this dynamic space and the ways in which they use and adapt their economic toolkit to contribute to these antitrust investigations.

September 16, 10:30 am (immediately following the ICN 2020 programming)

Showcase of US DOJ’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF)

Panel discussion with the Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division, senior DOJ leadership, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a public procurement agency

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