‘Too Big to Care’

While speaking to the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, Internal Market Chief Thierry Breton recently said that digital platforms may have become “too big to care.”

He stated this in the context that they “tend to neglect the consequences of their actions in our daily environments, whether it be in work [or] in our social lives, but also when it comes to our democracy.”

In many ways, the EU has placed more emphasis than the U.S. when it comes to regulating the digital economy. However, Breton’s comments speak to the extent to which he and other regulators view the digital economy as still lacking in necessary regulation.

Key to developments in their recent thinking is the view that digital platforms are not just online ‘hosts,’ but gatekeepers, who according to Breton are “vertically integrated and advertising players,” and it appears that they will adopt the term ‘gatekeeper platform,’ in regulation going forward. This term was also recently used by the European Commission’s Vice-President for Digital, Margarethe Vestager at an online competition by the German Presidency of the EU.

According to Vestager, regulatory efforts are needed because “Europe’s online marketplaces should be vibrant ecosystems, where startups have a real chance to blossom. They shouldn’t be closed shops, controlled by a handful of gatekeeper platforms.”

Categories: Comparative Advantage, Digital Economy, Digital Platforms, Government v Tech

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