EC targets online giants over unfair practices

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The European Commission (EC) will launch an initiative tackling “unfair contractual clauses and trading practices” in platform-to-business relationships, as it looks to toughen up on top online companies like Apple and Google.

In a mid-year review of its Digital Single Market Strategy, the commission said it would prepare the initiative by the end of 2017 to address complaints against big name online players.

Reuters reported European companies including music platforms Spotify and Deezer submitted complaints to the EC about online platforms abusing their power through search engines and app stores, by also pushing their own services. There were further complaints about imbalanced terms and conditions.

In 2016, Spotify also hit out at Apple for rejecting an update to its app, arguing it was being anti-competitive.

The EC announced a review of platform-to-business trading practices backed up the European companies’ complaints.“Preliminary results indicate that some online platforms are engaging in trading practices which are to the potential detriment of professional users, such as the removal (delisting) of products or services without due notice or without any effective possibility to contest the platform’s decision”. It added the platforms may indeed favor their own services, or discriminate between different suppliers and sellers: “and restrict access to, and the use of, personal and non-personal data, including that which is directly generated by a company’s activities on a platform.”

The commission said its goal is to “safeguard a fair, predictable, sustainable and ultimately trusted business environment in the online economy”.


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