European Commission communication on online platforms

The European Commission has published a communication on online platforms and the digital single market. The communication outlines a targeted, principles-based approach to fix problems flagged by respondents to the Commission’s September 2015 consultation on online platforms.

The key principles the Commission has applied are:

  • that it should create a level playing field so that comparable digital services are subject to the same or similar rules;
  • ensure that online platforms act responsibly;
  • foster transparency and fairness to maintain user trust and safeguard innovation; and
  • keep markets open and non-discriminatory.

The Commission is encouraging online platforms to undertake coordinated EU-wide self-regulatory efforts to curtail exposure to illegal and harmful content. The Commission says that it will consider whether to provide guidance for online platforms on their liability when putting in place voluntary, good-faith measures to fight illegal content online, since some online platforms had expressed concern about how the exemptions in the E-Commerce Directive would apply in such cases.

Other actions include taking steps to deal with ensuring that online ratings and reviews are trustworthy and that online platforms do not mislead consumers. In this regard, the Commission has published a revised Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation and revised guidance on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

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