Online platforms are an important part of a thriving digital economy. The European Commission with it proposals wants to ensure that platforms operate properly and illegal content is not online.

The European Commission's policy aims at supporting a trusting, lawful and innovation-driven ecosystem around online platforms in the EU. To this end, the Commission's Communication on Online Platforms, published on 25 May 2016 identified the main areas where further attention is needed. The guiding policy principles pursued by the Commission are:

  1. A level playing field for comparable digital services;
  2. Ensuring that online platforms behave responsibly to protect core values;
  3. Fostering trust, transparency and ensuring fairness;
  4. Keeping markets open and non-discriminatory to foster a data-driven economy.

In the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission made commitment to two main actions:

  • to prepare actions to address the issues of unfair contractual clauses and trading practices identified in platform-to-business relationships, including by exploring dispute resolution, fair practices criteria and transparency, most probably in April 2018;
  • to ensure better coordination of platform dialogues within the Digital Single Market focusing on the mechanisms and technical solutions for removal of illegal content, with a view to enhancing their effectiveness in full respect of fundamental rights.

On 1 March 2018, the Commission issued a Recommendation on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online. This Recommendation builds on an earler Communication on "tackling illegal content online, towards enhanced responsibility of online platforms",  adopted on 28 September 2017, and translates the political commitment of the Communication into a (non-binding) legal form.

The Commission will also carry out an in-depth analysis of algorithmic transparency and accountability in 2017 and 2018. The pilot project launched at the request of the European Parliament, aims to provide for an in-depth policy-relevant study of the role of algorithms in particular how they shape, filter or personalize the information flows that they intermediate.

What are online platforms and why they are important

Online platforms cover a wide range of activities including online advertising platforms, marketplaces, search engines, social media and creative content outlets, application distribution platforms, communications services, payment systems, and platforms for the collaborative economy.

They share key characteristics including the use of information and communication technologies to facilitate interactions (including commercial transactions) between users, collection and use of data about these interactions, and network effects which make the use of the platforms with most users most valuable to other users.

Online platforms are strong drivers of innovation and play an important role in Europe's digital society and economy. They increase consumer choice, improve efficiency and competitiveness of industry and can enhance civil participation in society.

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24 September 2015
Last update: 
2 March 2018
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