Montag, 27.05.2019 11:05 Uhr

The question of Gatekeeping

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 05.12.2018, 09:49 Uhr
Presse-Ressort von: Dr. Carlo Marino Bericht 6033x gelesen

Rome [ENA] One of the characteristics of the online market is the quick raise and demise of business under the influence of platforms that can act as gatekeepers. Gatekeeping is the process through which information is filtered for dissemination, whether for publication, broadcasting, the Internet, or some other mode of communication. The academic theory of gatekeeping is founded in multiple fields of study,

including communication studies, journalism, political science, and sociology. The role played by gatekeepers should be reduced as much as possible to one of neutral intermediaries thus benefiting the business and the consumer parts of the market. Online intermediation services are important enablers of digital trade and, in particular, entrepreneurship, trade and innovation, which can also improve consumer welfare and which are more and more exploited by both the private and public sectors. The access offered to new markets and commercial opportunities allows enterprises to utilize the benefits of the internal market.

They also allow consumers particularly in the European Union to exploit those benefits by increasing their choice of goods and services as well as by offering competitive prices online. A uniform and targeted set of mandatory rules should therefore be established at European Union level to ensure a fair, predictable, sustainable and trusted online business environment within the internal market by making certain that the business users of online intermediation services are offered appropriate transparency as well as real compensation possibilities throughout the Union.

Those rules should also provide for appropriate incentives to promote fair and proportionate business conduct and transparency, especially as regards the ranking of corporate website users in the search results generated by online search engines, including voice assistants. At the same, those rules should be such as to preserve the important innovation potential of the wider online platform economy and allow for a healthy competition leading to enhanced consumer choice. The ranking of websites by the providers of online search engines, especially of those websites through which undertakings offer goods and services to consumers, has an important impact on consumer choice and the commercial success of corporate website users.

Providers of online search engines should therefore provide a description of the main parameters determining the ranking of all indexed websites, comprising those of corporate website users as well as other websites. In addition to the characteristics of the goods and services and their relevance for consumers, this description should in the case of online search engines also facilitate corporate website users to get an acceptable understanding of whether, certain design characteristics of the website used, such as their optimisation for display on mobile telecommunications devices, is taken into account.

In the absence of a contractual relationship between providers of online search engines and corporate website users, that description should be available to the public in an obvious and easily accessible location on the relevant online search engine. To ensure predictability for corporate website users, the description should also be kept up to date, including the possibility that any changes to the main parameters should be made easily identifiable. Mobile devices’ operating systems such as IOS or Android consist of software, which allows applications to work on specific devices (e.g. apps on a smartphone).

Restrictions or changes deliberately imposed by device manufacturers or operating systems providers may limit the distribution and access to certain online content and services and could be at the users’ expense. The definition of online intermediaries should thus be adjusted to openly include device. While websites are still the main gateway, applications and other means might soon meet the same challenges.

The online intermediation service provider shall ensure that business users retain full control over their brands. The brand attribution to the business user should be recognizable to the consumer throughout all the stages of the intermediation process. The provider of online intermediation services shall not engage in unfair commercial practices. An unfair commercial practice is the practice leading to situations where there is a materially detrimental impact on competition and consumer choice.

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