The European Commission is about to launch a public consultation on Online Platforms. The consultation is part of the Commission’s strategy to implement the Digital Single Market for Europe, unveiled on 6 May 2015.
The Commission’s strategy comprises 16 initiatives and is aimed at creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services to grow in the internal market. The consultation focuses on one of these initiatives and proposes a comprehensive analysis of the role of Online Platforms.
The consultation is expected to be published on the second half of September. However, the Commission will presumably seek input on the definition of ‘platform’ and how these services are used. The consultation could also look for evidence on problems experienced by users and suppliers when dealing with Online Platforms, including music services, search engines, online marketplaces and social networks.
In addition, the consultation could cover issues such as the non-transparency of search results and pricing policies; how the online platforms use the data they acquire; the relationships between platforms and suppliers; and the promotion of their own services to the disadvantage of competitors.
The consultation is likely to include questions aimed at clarifying whether action is needed to promote the sector of ‘collaborative’ services, including taxi-hailing applications such as Uber and accommodation networks such as Airbnb.
The Commission could also seek evidence on antitrust problems that may arise from the platforms’ market power, such as how much traders ‘depend’ on certain Platforms and whether Online Platforms position their ‘own services to the disadvantage of services provided by suppliers’. A specific section on intermediary liability and how to best tackle illegal content on Internet is expected.
Further details on the questionnaire and the deadline to submit comments will be provided once the consultation is open.