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The European Union approved new regulations promoting fairness and transparency of online platforms, coming into effect in summer 2020.
This regulation is based on two key areas. First, several online platforms have superior bargaining power, enabling them to behave unfairly towards the many business users that need those platforms for selling their products and services. Second, many online businesses rely on their website ranking by search engines, which justifies transparency requirements for those search engines. The new Regulation aims to ensure a fair, predictable and trusted online business environment for the benefit of all consumers in the EU.
The main instrument in achieving these goals is the terms and conditions, which must clearly set out the rules for operating the platform. The platform operator can only amend its terms and conditions with 15 days’ prior notice and must give the platform’s business users a further 15 days to terminate the contract if they do not accept the proposed amendments. To ensure that all these principles are complied with, the new Regulation contains a full range of remedies. Platform operators must provide for an internal complaint-handling system that is easily accessible and free of charge. Complaints that are not resolved may be submitted to impartial and independent mediators.