Online platforms and search engines are now operating under new rules designed to promote fairness and transparency for their business users.
The Platform to Business Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 (P2B Regulation) took effect in the UK and EU member states on 12 July 2020.
The new rules apply to online intermediation services and search engines based anywhere in the world that offer services to commercial users in the EU or the UK, as well as to corporate websites established in the EU offering goods or services to consumers located in the EU.
This would include, for example, e-commerce marketplaces, app stores, social media for business, price comparison tools and general online search engines.
The new P2B Regulation makes it a legal requirement for such operators to refrain from certain practices deemed to be unfair and by implementing an internal complaints-handling system.
The P2B Regulation includes:
- Banning unfair practices such as requiring at least 15 days’ prior notice before changing terms and conditions, and removing the ability of digital platforms to take punitive action against sellers by suspending or terminating an account without fair reason, and where this course of action is pursued, there must be an appeal process.
- Better transparency of ranking criteria: digital platforms and search engines are now required to divulge their main ranking criteria for goods and services displayed on their respective sites, and must also disclose what data they collect and how it is used. It will also be mandatory to disclose any advantage given to their own products.
- Complaints handling: online platforms, with limited exceptions, are required to have in place an internal complaint-handling system to assist commercial users. Business associations will now be able to take platforms to court to stop any non-compliance with the rules.
Terms that infringe the regulations will be deemed null and void. Individual countries have discretion under the Regulation to legislate for additional sanctions for non-compliance.