A number of digital and social media companies have grown so large that their activities are starting to have harmful effects on society as a whole. The existing regulation in Finland or elsewhere cannot correct the problems that have been identified, including illegal content published on platforms and unfair practices, for example. The need for new regulation at EU level is obvious as it is not possible to address the problems faced by businesses and consumers effectively by means of existing legislation.
The European Commission has submitted two legislative proposals aimed at making the digital environment safer and fairer for consumers and businesses. One of the proposed regulations concerns digital services and the other concerns the digital market. Finland supports the objectives of the proposed regulations (press release, 04 February 2021).
Competition must be fair in digital age too
In practice, the proposed regulation on the digital market would affect the 10–15 largest platform companies, which have a great deal of market power over their business and end consumers. For example, a platform company can take advantage of its market position by requiring certain service providers to use the company’s payment application for purchases. As a result, a customer relationship develops between the platform company and the consumer, while the application developer does not gain access to data collected from consumers.
Similarly, there have been cases where platform companies have favoured their own services or products by giving them better visibility than competing services or products. There are many other similar examples of unfair practices. We must tackle these problems.
Competition must be effective and fair in the digital age too. In particular, access to data is a critical factor in competition, and at the moment, a few platform giants control access to data collected from users. This monopoly is so strong that, in practice, smaller operators may not have access even to the user data of their own content.
Finland will actively participate in the negotiations on this new EU regulation in order to promote the functioning and fairness of the internal market with the help of clear rules.
Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen