Thursday, September 24, 2015

Inquiry launched into online platforms and the EU Digital Single Market

The House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee has launched an inquiry into online platforms in the EU Digital Single Market. The deadline for receipt of written submissions is Friday 16 October 2015.


Online platforms range from marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, to sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb and Uber, to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. With a billion people recently using Facebook in a single day, the extent of our use of online platforms continues to hit new heights. 

Commission's Digital Single Market Strategy 

However, in its recent >Digital Single Market Strategy< the European Commission raised concerns about the growing influence of internet platforms in some online markets, leading it to ask whether new regulation is needed. This inquiry has been launched by the Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee in order to feed into this important debate. 

Timeline

The Committee will hold oral evidence sessions for the inquiry from October until December 2015. The Committee plans to publish a report in spring 2016.

Focus of the inquiry

The inquiry will seek evidence about the benefits and problems that online platforms create for consumers and businesses, and ask if online platforms are sufficiently transparent about how they work. The inquiry will consider issues such as data use, market dominance, and relations between platforms and their suppliers, including SMEs. 

In addition, the Committee will consider the wider social and political issues raised by online platforms and ask if the EU online marketplace is good for innovative start-ups to scale up and for new platforms to emerge. 

Topics the Committee will explore include:

  • How should online platforms be defined?
  • What benefits have online platforms brought consumers, businesses that rely on platforms to sell their goods and services, and the wider economy?
  • Do online platforms cause problems and, if so, how they can be addressed?
  • Are the current tools under competition law effective for online platforms?
  • What role do data play in the business model of online platforms? Is current understanding and oversight of their collection and use of data sufficient?
  • Are these issues best dealt with at EU or member state level?

Further information