FiCom Policy Paper: Regulation of Platforms and Online Intermediaries

To the European Commission

Finnish Federation for Communications and Teleinformatics, FiCom is a co-operation organisation for the ICT industry in Finland. FiCom's members are companies and other entities that operate in the communications and teleinformatics sector in Finland. In addition to the answers provided to the Public Consultation on regulation of Platforms and Online Intermediaries, FiCom would like to offer to the Commission the following paper on policy observations.

Regulation of Platforms

Underlying reason for ongoing public consultation is the observation that different platforms play a very central role in digital economy. However, unlike the case with early telecom regulation, new ex-ante regulation is not the way to create the market among platforms. The proposed definition of platform is so broad that it encompasses all possible platforms not regarding their market power.

Market of platforms is still developing and users may carry out quick migrations among different platforms depending on various variables. In FiCom's opinion it is still too early to burden this sector with extensive regulation. When developing digital economy it is crucial for the regulator to maintain a steady and predictable regulatory environment. As the business evolves on a very fast pace another crucial issue for the regulator is to maintain level playing field for established and challenging market players. In terms of EU acquis, this predominantly transfers to moving away from sector-specific regulation towards more general approach. Forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation will form the basis for data-driven European digital economy. Best way to boost European digital economy is to wait and see the content of the regulation and assess the need for further regulation only after the effects of GDPR have been sufficiently analysed.

Online Intermediaries and the liability of online content

On FiCom's view there isn't right balance on copyright and liability issues on DSM strategy. The main objective should be to foster market-driven growth of European creative sector, especially on audiovisual services which are going through thorough digital transformation. As stated in the background document of the review of Telecom regulation package, there is a need to advance investments to high-speed network all over Europe. The investments needed are to very large extent made be the very same operators to whom the DSM strategy suggests new duties and liabilities concerning illegal content.

The existing liability framework is based mostly on electronic commerce directive, which is well established, highly functional and serves the purpose of striking the right balance between legitimate needs of the right holders and practical needs of providers of information society services.

The proposed amendments (review of electronic commerce directive and new duty of care -approach) run quite contrary to the business needs of the operators. Operators strive to build networks and back office systems that are robust, secure and capable to efficiently give access to users to the content of their choice. Proposed duties would need new processes that do not serve operators' core business. Efficient measures to curb the availability of illegal content are grounded, though. It would be advisable to concentrate the efforts on follow-the-money principle. It has proved to be effective and does not cause unnecessary burden on operators.