Anti-competitive notions, it seems, are increasingly informing the critical debate on a data-driven economy organised into scalable digital platforms. Issues of market definitions, how to value personal data on multisided platforms, and how to detect and regulate misuses of dominant positions have become key nomenclature on the battlefield of addressing fairness in our contemporary digital societies. This article looks at the central themes for this special issue on governing trust in European platform societies through the lens of contemporary developments in the field of competition law. Three main questions are addressed: (1) To what extent are the platforms’ own abilities to govern their infrastructures, that is, to be de facto regulators over both human behaviour and market circumstances, a challenge for contemporary competition regulation? (2) In what way is the collection, aggregation, or handling of consumers’ data of relevance for competition? (3) How can the particular European challenges of governing US-based digital platforms more broadly be understood in terms of the relationship between transparency and public trust? Of particular relevance – and challenge – here are the platforms’ abilities to govern their infrastructures, albeit through automated moderation, pricing or scalable data handling. It is argued that this aspect of coded, and possibly autonomously adapting, intra-platform governance, poses significant anti-competitive challenges for supervisory authorities, with possible negative implications for consumer autonomy and wellbeing as well as platform-dependent other companies.
- Business Administration
- competition policy and platforms
- consumer autonomy
- transparency and automation
- public trust and platform governance
- the Digital Markets Act