European Union Committee
Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market

10th Report of Session 2015-16 - published 20 April 2016 - HL Paper 129



Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: The importance of online platforms

The benefits of online platforms

Benefits for businesses

Benefits for consumers

Wider concerns

Chapter 3: Defining ‘online platforms’

The Commission’s definition and description of online platforms

Box 1: The Commission’s definition of online platforms

Table 1: The taxonomy of online platforms used in the
Commission’s consultation

Strengths of the Commission’s definition and description

Economics of two- or multi-sided businesses

Support for the theory of multi-sided platforms

Gateways to the Internet

The role of data

Limitations of the Commission’s definition

Breadth of the Commission’s definition

The inclusion of Netflix


Chapter 4: Market power and online platforms

Network effects

Box 2: Network Effects

How network effects may lead to market power

Network effects and the Internet

Market shares

Switching costs

Switching costs for consumers

Switching costs for businesses

Entry barriers

Entrenched market power

Regulating the market power of online platforms

The role of innovation


Chapter 5: Competition law and online platforms

Box 3: Competition law in the EU and UK

Restrictions on pricing

Price Parity Clauses and online travel agents

Box 4: Wide and narrow price parity clauses used by OTAs

Competition enforcement against parity clauses in the hotel

Regulating price parity clauses

Discrepancy in bargaining power between hotels and OTAs

Other practices adopted by OTAs


Asymmetries in bargaining power in other industries

Codes of practice

Market investigations

Business-to-business dispute resolution mechanism

Protecting complainants

Vertical integration and leveraging

Box 5: The Google Search Case

Effective remedy

Mergers and Acquisitions

Box 6: Mergers and Acquisitions under EU and UK Law

Data and competition law

Data-driven abuses

Degrading privacy standards as an abuse of dominance

The adequacy of competition law

Length of competition proceedings

Interim measures

Commitment proceedings

Box 7: Commitment Decisions

Chapter 6: Data protection law and online platforms

Consumer concerns about personal data and online businesses

The collection of personal data

The use of personal data

Competition on the basis of privacy

General Data Protection Regulation

Box 8: Comparing the Data Protection Act 1998 and General
Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Extending the scope of the types of data covered by the

Privacy Notices

Improving control over personal data

Experiments using personal data on social networks

Implementing the General Data Protection Regulation

Engagement between industry and regulators

Chapter 7: Consumer protection and online platforms

Consumer-to-consumer transactions

Box 9: Consumers and Traders in Consumer Protection Law

Transparency in how online platforms present information

Box 10: Unfair Commercial Practices Directive

Transparency in search results

Personalised pricing

Ratings and reviews

Chapter 8: How to grow European platforms

The UK’s strengths

Why is there no European Google?

Europe: an exporter of unicorns

Create a Digital Single Market of 500 million consumers

Facilitate increased investment

Embrace the strategic role of innovation

Chapter 9: Regulating online platforms

Disrupted regulation

Responding to regulatory disruption

Ensure that regulators are properly resourced and willing to act

Review existing law and develop guidance

A continuous process

Coherence across the single market

Work across regulatory regimes

An outlet for political pressure

An independent expert panel

Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations

Appendix 1: List of Members and Declarations of Interest

Appendix 2: List of Witnesses

Appendix 3: Call for Evidence

Appendix 4: Examples of multi-sided platform businesses

Appendix 5: Glossary

Appendix 6: Visit to Digital Catapult Centre

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