DIGITAL CAT GROWS AND BUILDS ITS IDENTITY
The first module of cartel exposure and proof software is launched
On 20 November, the V International Research-to-Practice Conference – “Antimonopoly Policy: Science, Practice, Education” in Skolkovo Innovation Centre included a session about the “Big Digital Cat” software, which allows to automatically get arrays of data via closed communications channels, analyze whether they meet the given criteria, expose cartels based on such analysis and form evidence.
“It is not possible to work with digital violations on the basis of no-digital tools”, emphasized the session moderator, Stats-Secretary, Deputy Head of FAS Andrey Tsarikovskiy. “Cartels have moved into digital and became more sophisticated, so to fight them asset of software is needed”.
He added that some elements of the Big Digital Cat program can be used to expose other violations: the big data processing system and machine learning will facilitate efficient exposure of various signs of violations.
“We live in the world of big data and globalization, and cannot manage without these tools”, concluded Andrey Tsarikovskiy.
In his view, many other countries in the world are following the same “digital” path.
Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department Andrey Tenishev said that the last cartel, investigating which Roscomstat [the Federal State Statistics Service] data were used, was revealed in 2010. He pointed out that “now we are analyzing big data from e-sites and tender conduct”.
According to Andrey Tenishev, corporate web-sites where price information is published on a regular basis were analyzed investigating cases on economic coordination of smartphone prices.
He added that FAS intends to use the Big Digital Cat not only just screen but also collect, register and analyze evidence.
Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department stated that “there is a person behind every computer program and we do not reject traditional methods of proof. Scientific research is necessary to understand when evidence should be searched by person and when by software, and I think it’s time for us to create a new research direction – antimonopoly forensics”.
Anton Teslenko, Deputy Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department gave more details regarding the Big Digital Cat.
He emphasized that “the funds allocated for public procurement generate the need for careful control over competitive bidding. To this purpose, a screening service for data analysis in automated mode is created”. At the same time, he pointed out that it proved to be insufficient and the project is expanded significantly: searching digital means for digital market analysis continues, efforts to expose and prove cartels are automated, the list of evidence is expanded.
“The first software module is ready. It concerns working with the Unified Automated System on data procurement analysis”, summed up Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department.
Head of FAS RP Department, Irina Kashunina, talked about a contest between subscribers of FAS official social networks for choosing a logo of the Big Digital Cat.
She pointed out that the “refined sketches of the winning digital cats will be used along with the official FAS symbols”.
President of Brazil Competition Law Commission, Paulo Zuppo Mazzucato outlined the experience of Brazil competition authority on countering digital cartels, particularly, on aviation and automotive markets and specially focused on the complexity of determining who is guilty in such violations.
Ekaterina Semyonova, an expert of BRICS Antimonopoly Centre and an expert of the Institute of Law and Development of the Higher School of Economics – Skolkovo, reviewed various screening programs used by competition authorities around the world and stressed the need to form an international digital platform for data exchange.
Takhir Scherba, Head of Antimonopoly Practice at “Compliance Institute” Ltd. presented commercial projects for preventing violations.
Betal Bijoev, Project Director, Head of E-University of “Sberbank-AST” CJSC talked about digitalizing public procurement and expressed hope that the Big Digital Cat will remove some issues of violations on e-sites.
Bruno Dwart, a data analyst at Superintendent Department, Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence, informed about establishing a CADE screening unit. Silva Gierm d’Alesandro, a senior investigator at Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defence, described in detail the progress in the project for analyzing conduct criteria in public procurement screening.
Andrey Tsarikovskiy commented that the “epoch of classical evidence is receding into the past and we are entering the epoch of “conduct” evidence that must be proved”.
Andrey Tenishev mentioned that today digital traces left by violators can be used to prove violations, particularly, at Courts.
Pierre Horna, a UNCTAD legal officer highly praised Russian experience in developing software to expose cartels, along with the efforts by South Korea and the UK, and suggested to create possibilities for exchanging information on the cross-border basis.
“The money saved through use of such programs is much higher than the costs of their development”, emphasized Andrey Tsarikovskiy and summed up that “together smart-control of e-sites, e-compliance and the Big Digital Cat are designed to enable efficient control over competition at auctions and tenders”.