Government urges EU not to increase Digital Platform regulation - DAC Beachcroft

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Government urges EU not to increase Digital Platform regulation

Published 1 February 2016

What does this cover?

We reported in October 2015 on the European Commission's (EC) consultations on: (1) 'Geo-blocking and other geographically-based restrictions when shopping and accessing information in the EU'; and (2) 'Regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy'. The consultations closed in December 2015.

On 15 January 2016 the Government published a response to the second of these consultations (Response). The EC states that this consultation seeks to establish "a comprehensive assessment on the role of platforms, covering the social and economic role of online platforms, transparency (e.g. in search results), terms of use, ratings and reviews, the use of information by platforms, the relation between platforms and their suppliers, the conditions of switching between comparable services offered by platforms, and the role of online intermediaries, including ways to tackle illegal content on the Internet". The Response contained two key messages:

1. Platforms are beneficial

The Response makes clear that the Government supports platforms and platform innovation as – they are believed to provide benefits in consumer convenience and choice, as well as business benefits in terms of consumer reach and service efficiency. The government rejects any restrictions which might compromise these benefits.

2. A rejection of additional regulation

The Response makes it clear that the Government considers platforms to already be sufficiently regulated, but that such regulation might not be enforced as frequently as necessary. The Government considers that any additional regulation of platforms is a potential hindrance and would be too difficult to effectively apply because of the diversity of platform models. The Response states that "It is important to strive to minimise disproportionate burdens on business when considering regulatory action at either EU or domestic level. In that vein, industry-led alternatives to regulation – including self-regulation, standards and kitemarks – should be considered". It is also argued that, in any event, extra regulation is unnecessary; the government points out that platforms are already legally required to comply with the obligations of the Consumer Rights Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The Response also comments on the promotion of personal data management systems, the removal of barriers to cloud uptake, and the sharing economy.

To view the Response, please click here.

What action could be taken to manage risks that may arise from this development?

At this stage, the EC is only considering the risks, benefits and requirements of digital platforms and technologies. Organisations should await the outcome of the EC consultation for the next steps prepared by the EC.



Rhiannon Webster

Rhiannon Webster

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6577

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