Preamble 61 to 70
(61) The value of online search engines to their respective business users and end users increases as the total number of such users increases. Undertakings providing online search engines collect and store aggregated datasets containing information about what users searched for, and how they interacted with, the results with which they were provided. Undertakings providing online search engines collect these data from searches undertaken on their own online search engine and, where applicable, searches undertaken on the platforms of their downstream commercial partners.
Access by gatekeepers to such ranking, query, click and view data constitutes an important barrier to entry and expansion, which undermines the contestability of online search engines. Gatekeepers should therefore be required to provide access, on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, to those ranking, query, click and view data in relation to free and paid search generated by consumers on online search engines to other undertakings providing such services, so that those third-party undertakings can optimise their services and contest the relevant core platform services.
Such access should also be given to third parties contracted by a provider of an online search engine, who are acting as processors of this data for that online search engine. When providing access to its search data, a gatekeeper should ensure the protection of the personal data of end users, including against possible re-identification risks, by appropriate means, such as anonymisation of such personal data, without substantially degrading the quality or usefulness of the data.
The relevant data is anonymised if personal data is irreversibly altered in such a way that information does not relate to an identified or identifiable natural person or where personal data is rendered anonymous in such a manner that the data subject is not or is no longer identifiable.
(62) For software application stores, online search engines and online social networking services listed in the designation decision, gatekeepers should publish and apply general conditions of access that should be fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory. Those general conditions should provide for a Union based alternative dispute settlement mechanism that is easily accessible, impartial, independent and free of charge for the business user, without prejudice to the business user’s own cost and proportionate measures aimed at preventing the abuse of the dispute settlement mechanism by business users.
The dispute settlement mechanism should be without prejudice to the right of business users to seek redress before judicial authorities in accordance with Union and national law. In particular, gatekeepers which provide access to software application stores are an important gateway for business users that seek to reach end users. In view of the imbalance in bargaining power between those gatekeepers and business users of their software application stores, those gatekeepers should not be allowed to impose general conditions, including pricing conditions, that would be unfair or lead to unjustified differentiation.
Pricing or other general access conditions should be considered unfair if they lead to an imbalance of rights and obligations imposed on business users or confer an advantage on the gatekeeper which is disproportionate to the service provided by the gatekeeper to business users or lead to a disadvantage for business users in providing the same or similar services as the gatekeeper.
The following benchmarks can serve as a yardstick to determine the fairness of general access conditions: prices charged or conditions imposed for the same or similar services by other providers of software application stores; prices charged or conditions imposed by the provider of the software application store for different related or similar services or to different types of end users; prices charged or conditions imposed by the provider of the software application store for the same service in different geographic regions; prices charged or conditions imposed by the provider of the software application store for the same service the gatekeeper provides to itself.
This obligation should not establish an access right and it should be without prejudice to the ability of providers of software application stores, online search engines and online social networking services to take the required responsibility in the fight against illegal and unwanted content as set out in a Regulation on a single market for digital services.
(63) Gatekeepers can hamper the ability of business users and end users to unsubscribe from a core platform service that they have previously subscribed to. Therefore, rules should be established to avoid a situation in which gatekeepers undermine the rights of business users and end users to freely choose which core platform service they use. To safeguard free choice of business users and end users, a gatekeeper should not be allowed to make it unnecessarily difficult or complicated for business users or end users to unsubscribe from a core platform service.
Closing an account or un-subscribing should not be made be more complicated than opening an account or subscribing to the same service. Gatekeepers should not demand additional fees when terminating contracts with their end users or business users. Gatekeepers should ensure that the conditions for terminating contracts are always proportionate and can be exercised without undue difficulty by end users, such as, for example, in relation to the reasons for termination, the notice period, or the form of such termination. This is without prejudice to national legislation applicable in accordance with the Union law laying down rights and obligations concerning conditions of termination of provision of core platform services by end users.
(64) The lack of interoperability allows gatekeepers that provide number-independent interpersonal communications services to benefit from strong network effects, which contributes to the weakening of contestability. Furthermore, regardless of whether end users ‘multi-home’, gatekeepers often provide number-independent interpersonal communications services as part of their platform ecosystem, and this further exacerbates entry barriers for alternative providers of such services and increases costs for end users to switch. Without prejudice to Directive (EU) 2018/1972 of the European Parliament and of the Council and, in particular, the conditions and procedures laid down in Article 61 thereof, gatekeepers should therefore ensure, free of charge and upon request, interoperability with certain basic functionalities of their number-independent interpersonal communications services that they provide to their own end users, to third-party providers of such services.
Gatekeepers should ensure interoperability for third-party providers of number-independent interpersonal communications services that offer or intend to offer their number-independent interpersonal communications services to end users and business users in the Union.
To facilitate the practical implementation of such interoperability, the gatekeeper concerned should be required to publish a reference offer laying down the technical details and general terms and conditions of interoperability with its number-independent interpersonal communications services.
It should be possible for the Commission, if applicable, to consult the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, in order to determine whether the technical details and the general terms and conditions published in the reference offer that the gatekeeper intends to implement or has implemented ensures compliance with this obligation.
In all cases, the gatekeeper and the requesting provider should ensure that interoperability does not undermine a high level of security and data protection in line with their obligations laid down in this Regulation and applicable Union law, in particular Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and Directive 2002/58/EC. The obligation related to interoperability should be without prejudice to the information and choices to be made available to end users of the number-independent interpersonal communication services of the gatekeeper and the requesting provider under this Regulation and other Union law, in particular Regulation (EU) 2016/679.
(65) To ensure the effectiveness of the obligations laid down by this Regulation, while also making certain that those obligations are limited to what is necessary to ensure contestability and tackling the harmful effects of the unfair practices by gatekeepers, it is important to clearly define and circumscribe them so as to allow the gatekeeper to fully comply with them, whilst fully complying with applicable law, and in particular Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and Directive 2002/58/EC and legislation on consumer protection, cyber security, product safety and accessibility requirements, including Directive (EU) 2019/882 and Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
The gatekeepers should ensure the compliance with this Regulation by design. Therefore, the necessary measures should be integrated as much as possible into the technological design used by the gatekeepers.
It may in certain cases be appropriate for the Commission, following a dialogue with the gatekeeper concerned and after enabling third parties to make comments, to further specify some of the measures that the gatekeeper concerned should adopt in order to effectively comply with obligations that are susceptible of being further specified or, in the event of circumvention, with all obligations. In particular, such further specification should be possible where the implementation of an obligation susceptible to being further specified can be affected by variations of services within a single category of core platform services.
For this purpose, it should be possible for the gatekeeper to request the Commission to engage in a process whereby the Commission can further specify some of the measures that the gatekeeper concerned should adopt in order to effectively comply with those obligations.
The Commission should have discretion as to whether and when such further specification should be provided, while respecting the principles of equal treatment, proportionality, and good administration. In this respect, the Commission should provide the main reasons underlying its assessment, including any enforcement priorities. This process should not be used to undermine the effectiveness of this Regulation.
Furthermore, this process is without prejudice to the powers of the Commission to adopt a decision establishing non-compliance with any of the obligations laid down in this Regulation by a gatekeeper, including the possibility to impose fines or periodic penalty payments. The Commission should be able to reopen proceedings, including where the specified measures turn out not to be effective.
A reopening due to an ineffective specification adopted by decision should enable the Commission to amend the specification prospectively. The Commission should also be able to set a reasonable time period within which the proceedings can be reopened if the specified measures turn out not to be effective.
(66) As an additional element to ensure proportionality, gatekeepers should be given an opportunity to request the suspension, to the extent necessary, of a specific obligation in exceptional circumstances that lie beyond the control of the gatekeeper, such as an unforeseen external shock that has temporarily eliminated a significant part of end user demand for the relevant core platform service, where compliance with a specific obligation is shown by the gatekeeper to endanger the economic viability of the Union operations of the gatekeeper concerned. The Commission should identify the exceptional circumstances justifying the suspension and review it on a regular basis in order to assess whether the conditions for granting it are still viable.
(67) In exceptional circumstances, justified on the limited grounds of public health or public security laid down in Union law and interpreted by the Court of Justice, the Commission should be able to decide that a specific obligation does not apply to a specific core platform service. If harm is caused to such public interests that could indicate that the cost to society as a whole of enforcing a certain obligation is, in a specific exceptional case, too high and thus disproportionate.
Where appropriate, the Commission should be able to facilitate compliance by assessing whether a limited and duly justified suspension or exemption is justified. This should ensure the proportionality of the obligations in this Regulation without undermining the intended ex ante effects on fairness and contestability. Where such an exemption is granted, the Commission should review its decision every year.
(68) Within the timeframe for complying with their obligations under this Regulation, gatekeepers should inform the Commission, through mandatory reporting, about the measures they intend to implement or have implemented in order to ensure effective compliance with those obligations, including those measures concerning compliance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679, to the extent they are relevant for compliance with the obligations provided under this Regulation, which should allow the Commission to fulfil its duties under this Regulation.
In addition, a clear and comprehensible non-confidential summary of such information should be made publicly available while taking into account the legitimate interest of gatekeepers in the protection of their business secrets and other confidential information. This non-confidential publication should enable third parties to assess whether the gatekeepers comply with the obligations laid down in this Regulation. Such reporting should be without prejudice to any enforcement action by the Commission at any time following the reporting.
The Commission should publish online a link to the non-confidential summary of the report, as well as all other public information based on information obligations under this Regulation, in order to ensure accessibility of such information in a usable and comprehensive manner, in particular for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
(69) The obligations of gatekeepers should only be updated after a thorough investigation into the nature and impact of specific practices that may be newly identified, following an in-depth investigation, as unfair or limiting contestability in the same manner as the unfair practices laid down in this Regulation while potentially escaping the scope of the current set of obligations.
The Commission should be able to launch an investigation with a view to determining whether the existing obligations need to be updated, either on its own initiative or following a justified request of at least three Member States.
When presenting such justified requests, it should be possible for Member States to include information on newly introduced offers of products, services, software or features which raise concerns of contestability or fairness, whether implemented in the context of existing core platform services or otherwise.
Where, following a market investigation, the Commission deems it necessary to modify essential elements of this Regulation, such as the inclusion of new obligations that depart from the same contestability or fairness issues addressed by this Regulation, the Commission should advance a proposal to amend this Regulation.
(70) Given the substantial economic power of gatekeepers, it is important that the obligations are applied effectively and are not circumvented. To that end, the rules in question should apply to any practice by a gatekeeper, irrespective of its form and irrespective of whether it is of a contractual, commercial, technical or any other nature, insofar as the practice corresponds to the type of practice that is the subject of one of the obligations laid down by this Regulation.
Gatekeepers should not engage in behaviour that would undermine the effectiveness of the prohibitions and obligations laid down in this Regulation. Such behaviour includes the design used by the gatekeeper, the presentation of end-user choices in a non-neutral manner, or using the structure, function or manner of operation of a user interface or a part thereof to subvert or impair user autonomy, decision-making, or choice.
Furthermore, the gatekeeper should not be allowed to engage in any behaviour undermining interoperability as required under this Regulation, such as for example by using unjustified technical protection measures, discriminatory terms of service, unlawfully claiming a copyright on application programming interfaces or providing misleading information. Gatekeepers should not be allowed to circumvent their designation by artificially segmenting, dividing, subdividing, fragmenting or splitting their core platform services to circumvent the quantitative thresholds laid down in this Regulation.
Cyber Risk GmbH
Tel: +41 79 505 89 60
We process and store data in compliance with both, the Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP) and the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The service provider is Hostpoint. The servers are located in the Interxion data center in Zürich, the data is saved exclusively in Switzerland, and the support, development and administration activities are also based entirely in Switzerland.
Understanding Cybersecurity in the European Union.