Policy Papers & Briefings

Unlocking digital competition, Report of the Digital Competition Expert Panel (UK Government)

This is the final report of the Digital Competition Expert Panel. Appointed by the Chancellor in 2018, and chaired by former Chief Economist to President Obama, Professor Jason Furman, the Panel makes recommendations for changes to the UK’s competition framework that are needed to face the economic challenges posed by digital markets, in the UK and internationally. Their report recommends updating the rules governing merger and antitrust enforcement, as well as proposing a bold set of pro-competition measures to open up digital markets.

The Economic Value of Data: Discussion paper (UK Government)

Data is the fuel of the digital economy. Technological change has radically increased both the volume of data in the economy, and our ability to process it. This presents an opportunity to transform our economy and society for the better.

This discussion paper provides an assessment of the economic value of data, and sets out five challenges to getting the most out of it for the UK economy:

  1. Addressing ownership and control of data

  2. Maintaining protection of personal data

  3. Openness in public sector data

  4. Driving interoperability and standards

  5. Enabling safe, legal data sharing

Media Councils in the Digital Age: An inquiry into the practices of media self-regulatory bodies in the media landscape of today (DG-CNECT)

We had two goals in mind with these interviews: one was to construct a comprehensive database to enable comparisons between media councils on a vast array of variables. This database can be found on the website of the Media Councils in the Digital Age project2. The second goal was the present report, in which we have selected a number of themes that media councils deal with, and that we thought deserve some more scrutiny. This study is part of the Media Councils in the Digital Age project, implemented by the European Federation of Journalists, together with the Raad voor de Journalistiek and the Conseil de Déontologique Journalistique, both from Belgium, the Finnish Julkisen Sanan Neuvosto, the Press Council of Ireland, the Austrian Presserat, the German Presserat, Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and Fundació Blanquerna (Universitat Ramon Llull) (Spain).

Media and Audiovisual Action Plan (European Commission)

Today the Commission adopted an Action Plan to support the recovery and transformation of the media and audiovisual sector. These sectors, particularly hit by the coronavirus crisis, are essential for democracy, Europe's cultural diversity and digital autonomy. The Action Plan focuses on three areas of activity and 10 concrete actions, to help the media sector recover from the crisis by facilitating and broadening access to finance, transform by stimulating investments to embrace the twin digital and green transitions while ensuring the sector's future resilience and empower European citizens and companies.

Google, however, did not accrue its monopoly power through excellence in themarketplace or innovations in its services alone. Google’s internal documents belie the public image of brainy Google engineers having fun at their sunny Mountain View campus while trying to make the world a better place. Rather, to cement its dominance across online display markets, Google has repeatedly and brazenly violated antitrust and consumer protection laws. Its modus operandi is to monopolize and misrepresent. Google uses its powerful position on every side of the online display markets to unlawfully exclude competition. It also boldly claims that “we’ll never sell your personal information to anyone,” but its entire business model is targeted advertising—the purchase and sale of advertisements targeted to individual users based on their personal information. From its earliest days, Google’s carefully curated public reputation of “don’t be evil” has enabled it to act with wide latitude. That latitude is enhanced by the extreme opacity and complexity of digital advertising markets, which are at least as complex as the most sophisticated financial markets in the world.

European Democracy Action Plan (European Commission)

The Commission will focus on strengthening cooperation between Member Statesand relevant regulatory authorities on parity of treatment and balanced media coverage during elections, given that traditional media and online platforms are not subject to the same obligations. Further guidance in this area could be facilitated at EU levelbenefiting also from the expertise of national media regulators in the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA)20and of self-regulatory media bodies. This work will also draw on expertise in the European Cooperation Network on Elections and the EU’s Rapid Alert System. Upholding standards of journalistic and editorial integrity is particularly important in the electoral context.The Commission will also strengthen the knowledge base and explore ways of helping citizens and national electoral authorities to build resilience against threats to the electoral process.This could include studies, pilot projects, support for education for active citizenship, and helpdesks or similar shared resources.

EU Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act (European Commission)

The proposed Regulation introduces a horizontal framework for all categories of content, products, services and activities on intermediary services. The illegal nature of such content, products or services is not defined in this Regulation but results from Union law or from national law in accordance with Union law.

Digital Competition Expert Panel (UK Government)

The Digital Competition Expert Panel was established by the Chancellor in September 2018. The Panel was chaired by Professor Jason Furman and composed of experts in economics, competition policy, law and computer science – Professor Diane Coyle, Professor Amelia Fletcher, Professor Philip Marsden and Professor Derek McAuley. The Panel’s terms of reference asked it to consider the potential opportunities and challenges the emerging digital economy may pose for competition and pro-competition policy, and to make recommendations on any changes that may be needed. In particular, the Panel was asked to examine: the impacts of the emergence of a small number of big players in digital markets such as social media, e-commerce, search, and online advertising; appropriate approaches to mergers, takeovers and anti-competitive practices in digital markets; opportunities to enhance competition, to increase business innovation and expand consumer choice how best to assess consumer impacts in ad-funded products and services that are ‘free’ to consumers.

The Panel ran a call for evidence between October and December 2018 to inform its analysis of competition in digital markets and to support its development of recommendations. Copies of public response to the call for evidence can be found on the consultation page.

The Panel’s final report – ‘Unlocking digital competition’ – makes recommendations for changes to the UK’s competition framework that are needed to face the economic challenges posed by digital markets, in the UK and internationally. Their report recommends updating the rules governing merger and antitrust enforcement, as well as proposing a bold set of pro-competition measures to open up digital markets.

Competition policy for the digital era: Final report (European Commission)

Commissioner Vestager has asked us to explore how competition policy should evolve to continue to promote pro-consumer innovation in the digital age. We structured our report as follows. First, we describe the digital world and what we see as the main ways in which markets function in the digital era (Chapter 2). We then outline our views of the goals of EU competition law in the digital era and the methodologies it should use (Chapter 3). Second, with this framework as background, we discuss the application of competition rules to platforms (Chapter 4) and data (Chapter 5), and we inquire whether European merger control needs an update(Chapter 6). We finally provide our conclusions.An important caveat at the outset: we make general suggestions, but of course digital services can be very diverse and the ways they compete require, as always under competition law, a case-by-case analysis.

Canada’s Communications Failure: Time to Act – final report (Government of Canada)

Our work is firmly rooted in an overarching vision for the legislative framework: one that reaffirms Canada’s sovereignty, supports our democratic values and inclusivity, and aims to realize the promise of advanced technologies for the benefit of Canada’s economy and future prosperity, and Canadians as citizens, users, and creators. All Canadians deserve to live a connected life: to connect with ideas, opinions, content, news and information, people, cultures, services and economic opportunities locally, nationally and globally. And to do so in a trusted environment.Overall, we have put forward a comprehensive set of recommendations for a modernized communications legislative and regulatory framework that would better prepare the country for an era of constant and rapid technological change. In this new regime, all undertakings, including international online platform providers not currently covered, would contribute fairly and proportionately to Canada’s national objectives, whether with respect to cultural policy or the goal of universal broadband connectivity; users would be better served and their interests protected; the roll-out of advanced networks would be accelerated to spur innovation and provide affordable services to Canadians.

Cairncross Review: A sustainable future for journalism (UK Government)

ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry: Final Report (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)

  • The Preliminary Report is available here

  • News media bargaining code draft legislation is available here

In December 2017, the ACCC was directed to consider the impact of online search engines, social media and digital content aggregators (digital platforms) on competition in the media and advertising services markets. In accordance with the Terms of Reference (Appendix A), the ACCC has examined the implications of these impacts for media content creators, advertisers and consumers, focussing, in particular, on the impact on news and journalism.The ACCC has benefited from extensive engagement in the course of the Inquiry. Over 120 submissions were received in response to the Preliminary Report published on 10 December 2018, and 60 submissions were received in response to the Issues Paper published on 26 February 2018. The ACCC issued approximately 60 statutory notices under section 95ZK of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 requiring the provision of information and documents to the ACCC. ACCC Commissioners and staff also spoke directly to participants in multiple forums conducted as part of the Inquiry.Since the Preliminary Report was published in December 2018, there have been a number of significant reports commissioned and published by overseas government agencies and expert panels, which have reached many similar findings to the ACCC. The increased international focus on the impact of digital platforms, their business models and the significance of the user data they collect demonstrates the substantial and widespread impact of digital platforms, irrespective of geography

Media Independence and Sustainability policy brief

Written by GFMD’s Executive Director, Mira Milosevic, for the 2020 Global Conference for Media Freedom – hosted by the Government of Canada and the Government of Botswana as part of the Media Freedom Coalition – on 16 November 2020, this policy brief provides a short, yet concise overview of the various challenges to media sustainability and independence, particularly in the digital age.

Available in English and Français

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