16.12.2020

eco Association: European proposals for regulating digital services and markets retain important basic principles, but require further concretisation

The plans of the EU Commission presented yesterday for the regulation of digital services and digital markets are, in the view of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, ambitious proposals that appropriately reflect the complexity of the topic and of the Digital Market.

eco welcomes the fact that the draft Digital Services Act retains the essential pillars of the e-Commerce Directive. However, the Internet association is critical of the planned introduction of a new supervisory authority in the form of a Digital Service Coordinator:

“It’s good that the EU Commission is not tampering with basic principles such as the liability privilege for providers and the prohibition of general monitoring of Internet communications. This, as well as the clarification that hosting providers can maintain their liability privilege through voluntary measures, offers companies legal certainty,” says eco Chair of the Board Oliver Süme. “On the other hand, the planned introduction and set-up of the Digital Services Coordinator authority strikes us as excessive and is likely to lead to intense debate in the further course of the legislative process,” Süme continues. A supervisory authority with such a boundless scope of powers, combined with such a massive penalty framework, could do lasting damage to the development of the Digital Market in the EU. “Here, the Parliament and Council should apply a greater sense of proportion in the further development of the law,” recommends Süme.

With the Digital Markets Act, the Commission presents an ambitious competition framework to protect and strengthen digital markets. “With the regulatory approaches contained in the DMA for powerful digital corporations (aka gatekeepers), the debate on competition regulation of large digital corporations is now taking place, at least at the European level,” says Oliver Süme. What is needed now is further discussion among the Member States and the legislative institutions on the extent to which the proposed quantitative parameters are also suitable in practice for determining the gatekeeper position of a market participant. “The end of this discussion will hopefully bring about a harmonised legal framework for the European Digital Market,” says Süme. “We’re also critical of the centralisation of ‘trusted flaggers’ authorisation with the Digital Services Coordinator.”

In the two presented plans, the Commission has clearly made a serious effort to arrive at differentiated regulations for the extremely varied services and their different business models. “This naturally results in a complex structure. It’s therefore important to have clear definitions and clarity about who should be subject to which regulations in the future. Simplicity, comprehensibility and transparency are crucial here. Especially in the context of the planned high fines,” adds Süme.

 

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