Monitoring of the implementation of the Platform to Business Regulation
The study team conducted a preliminary monitoring of the implementation of the EU Regulation on platform-to-business relations (P2B Regulation), which entered into application on 12 July 2020. The Regulation established a set of rules for online platform intermediaries and general online search engines to create a fair, transparent and predictable business environment for businesses users of online platforms. The Regulation requires platforms and search engines to provide clarity and transparency of a number of elements, including announcing the changes in their terms and conditions, the grounds for restriction, suspension or termination, information on the business user identity, ancillary products and services, additional distribution channels, differentiated treatment, access of business users to data, ‘most favoured nation’ clauses, parameters affecting ranking, and dispute settlement systems.
As a first step, the study team reviewed the terms and conditions of a sample of large and small platforms and search engines against the provisions of the P2B Regulation. The review showed that a number of platforms and search engines in the sample provide information related to the provisions of the Regulation in their terms and conditions (T&C). In several instances, the T&C of these platforms appear to have been specifically updated around the entry into application of the Regulation. On the other hand, some platforms and search engines do not provide transparency on a number of topics in the T&C available. The review covered the T&C accessible without further login or registration to provide an overview of the information available at pre-contractual stage, therefore the analysis cannot confirm whether further information is provided in T&C that are not publicly available.
As a second step, the study team aimed to assess the implementation of the Regulation to date based on a survey with business users of platforms, and a review of any complaints available. Overall, the businesses surveyed did not notice significant changes in the transparency provided by the platforms they use, and the majority experienced practices that appear consistent with the Regulation (e.g. notice for changes of terms and for termination). Information on the effectiveness of the internal complaint handling mechanisms set up by the platforms was not available yet. Limited information on issues related to the P2B Regulation was reported in business user fora and on the Observatory website, often relating to unexplained account restrictions or listing suspensions and to the lack of effective complaint handling mechanisms.