On 9 July 2018, the Economic Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (the “EP”) published a study identifying potential competition law concerns in the financial technology (“FinTech”) sector (the “Study”).
Continue Reading The European Parliament publishes a study on financial technology and competition law

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has just released a 75-page Green Paper on Modernising Consumer Markets, setting out the Government’s main priorities for the digital economy in a post-Brexit Britain. The Green Paper reflects on the current state of consumer markets and regulation, and lays down the key challenges and opportunities which will be the focus of the UK’s regulatory and competitive framework going forward. This poses consultation questions to stakeholders on hot topics in digital markets, including questions on: the adequacy of the current competition rules and privacy protections, supporting consumer-friendly innovation, use of and access to big data, whether personalised pricing should be regulated, sufficiently protecting customers without stifling innovation, and alternative dispute resolution solutions.

It also includes various proposals to ensure new technology and data are used to benefit customers, strengthen national enforcement of consumer rights, modernise the approach taken by regulators, and improve consumers’ access to alternative dispute resolution services. In this Covington blog post, we explore some of the key messages and questions posed by the Green Paper.


Continue Reading The UK Government Seeks Views on the Regulation of Digital Markets for a Post-Brexit Great Britain

The Commission published the mid-term review of its Digital Single Market strategy today. The report reviews the development of the strategy over the last two years, and announces a number of new initiatives, including initiatives relating to important areas where action is needed to address digitization, including: (i) the free flow and accessibility of data

On 20 March 2017, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (the “Ministry”) published its Digital Platforms White Paper (the “White Paper” and launched a dedicated web portal), reflecting at least in part the results of its consultation on its Green Paper on Digital Platforms. The White Paper sets out several proposals for digital policy to facilitate growth of digital platforms on the basis of fair competition while guaranteeing individuals’ fundamental rights and data sovereignty. The Ministry appears to start from the premise that digital platforms sometimes fall outside the scope of German competition, consumer protection and commercial laws, such that the White Paper seeks to address this perceived enforcement gap.

The White Paper and other related German initiatives come as the European Commission (“EC”) pursues its 2015 Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy for the European Union (including several legislative proposals, a Communication on Online Platforms and a Communication on Data Economy) and a number of other Member States also focus on regulatory issues related to online platforms (e.g., the French investigation of non-search online advertising).

This post summarises some of the key elements of the White Paper.
Continue Reading German Ministry for Economy Publishes a White Paper on Digital Platforms

In the context of its Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy for the European Union (“EU”), the European Commission (“Commission”) published a Communication on Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market – Opportunities and Challenges for Europe (the “Communication”) on 25 May 2016.  The Communication sets out the Commission’s conclusions and proposals based on the Commission’s Consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy (“Consultation”) of 24 September 2015 and a series of workshops and studies.  This note also addresses the Commission’s Communication relating to the collaborative economy published on 2 June 2016.

The Communication makes clear that the Commission will not make broad regulatory proposals encompassing all allegedly potentially problematic aspects of online platforms.  Instead, the Commission proposes a problem-driven approach, such that intervention is only triggered in specific circumstances.  As a result, the Communication provides a road map and some general principles that should guide future intervention.

This more cautious approach may reflect concerns raised by the Commission’s competition directorate, and others, about over-broad regulation in the absence of a clear problem.


Continue Reading The European Commission’s Approach to Online Platforms and the Collaborative Economy

On 26 November 2013, the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) announced that it ended the probe into Amazon’s price parity policy (the “Policy”).  The Policy required that the price of an item offered by a retailer on Amazon’s online marketplace platform, Amazon Marketplace, should not be higher than the retailer’s lowest offer for that item