SVRVFoundation of a consumer-friendly regulation of interaction-based platform functionalities

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Louisa Specht-Riemenschneider, Susanne Dehmel, Peter Kenning, Christa Liedtke, Hans-Wolfgang Micklitz & Sven Scharioth

Release date:
June 2020

German Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs (SVRV) at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), Berlin

The law against hate crime on the Internet is about to be adopted, the directive on copyright in the digital single market is about to be implemented. Both legislative acts contain – in each case for their area of ​​application – extensive obligations for digital platforms. The Advisory Council for Consumer Affairs takes this as an opportunity to submit a comprehensive statement on the liability of platform operators outside of these two legislative acts.

Digital platforms are numerous and heterogeneous. Social networks and video sharing platforms, for example, differ fundamentally from platforms on which goods can be sold and from search engines. What is common to all these platforms, however, is that they provide a multitude of functions that are desirable and helpful from a consumer perspective. If these functions are fulfilled, however, problems can arise that may require regulatory action. What a legally adequate regulation can look like is highly questionable. The authors of the opinion develop horizontal guidelines for legally appropriate addressing of platforms, the main requirement of which is the transition to regulation that is more closely related to the individual functions of the platforms. Overall, platforms should be held more responsible for instance. However, when it comes to averaging content that violates personal rights, it must be ensured that an appropriate balance is found between the rights and interests of both the platform operators and the rights holders, as well as consumers, because the rights and interests of each of these parties are protected by fundamental rights.

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