On 17 September 2015, the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee (“the Committee”) launched an inquiry into the regulation of online platforms in the EU. The Committee intends to gather evidence on the benefits and problems online platforms create for consumers and businesses, the ways in which data is used and collected, relations between platforms and their suppliers, and any market dominance concerns.

The Committee will consider whether any potential problems that are identified can be resolved through regulatory change and it will make appropriate recommendations to the Commission and EU Member States as part of the wider EU Digital Single Market Strategy debate. The EU Digital Single Market Strategy was launched in May 2015, shortly followed by the announcement of a major e-commerce sector inquiry (see our briefing here).

The Committee has issued a call for evidence, with written submissions to be made by 16 October 2015. Public hearings will be held from 12 October 2015 until 14 December 2015. The Committee is planning to publish its report in Spring 2016.

The report will also receive responses from the Government and the Commission, and will be debated in the House of Lords.   

Businesses and consumers should consider whether they wish to submit evidence to the inquiry. Many businesses will have received questionnaires from the Commission in its e-commerce inquiry. The UK inquiry may present the opportunity to broaden the debate to all stakeholders and to a wider range of competition and consumer issues.