Busch, C.Regulation of digital platforms as infrastructures for services of general interest

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Christoph Busch

Release date:

Friedrich Ebert Foundation, WISO Diskurs 04/2021

Digital platforms such as Amazon, Google or Facebook have risen to become key players in the digitization of the economy and society within a few years. Online marketplaces, search engines and social networks have become an indispensable part of everyday life for most people. At the same time, criticism of the economic power and social influence of the 'super platforms' is growing. Calls for the taming or even smashing of the large digital companies are getting louder in Europe and the USA.

It is noticeable that the rise of digital platforms in the current legal policy debate is primarily discussed as a competition policy problem. 'Platform power' is equated with 'market power'. The current focus of the regulatory discourse on the market and opinion power of digital platforms falls short, however, because the 'platformization' of business and society cannot be seen as a competition problem alone.

In this context, the present study advocates a change of perspective in the current regulatory debate: Platform regulation is not only a question of competition policy, but also a question of infrastructure policy and state infrastructure responsibility. It is therefore necessary to supplement the regulatory framework with specific regulations that also cover the infrastructural function of digital platforms and their increasingly important role in the area of ​​services of general interest.

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