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European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association



ETNO response to the consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy

Please find the full response here.

Extracts from Consultation

Background and objectives

The views expressed in this public consultation document may not be interpreted as stating an official position of the European Commission. All definitions provided in this document are strictly for the purposes of this public consultation and are without prejudice to differing definitions the Commission may use under current or future EU law, including any revision of the definitions by the Commission concerning the same subject matters.

You are invited to read the privacy statement attached to this consultation for information on how your personal data and contribution will be dealt with. 

This public consultation will close on 6 January 2016 (13 weeks from the day when all language versions have been made available).

The Commission invites all interested parties to express their views on the questions targeting relations between platform providers and holders of rights in digital content (Question starting with "[A1]"), taking account of the Commission Communication "Towards a modern, more European copyright framework" of 9 December 2015. Technical features of the questionnaire have been adapted accordingly.




Do you agree with the definition of "Online platform" as provided below?

"Online platform" refers to an undertaking operating in two (or multi)-sided markets, which uses the Internet to enable interactions between two or more distinct but interdependent groups of users so as to generate value for at least one of the groups. Certain platforms also qualify as Intermediary service providers.

Typical examples include general internet search engines (e.g. Google, Bing), specialised search tools (e.g. Google Shopping, Kelkoo, Twenga, Google Local, TripAdvisor, Yelp,), location-based business directories or some maps (e.g. Google or Bing Maps), news aggregators (e.g. Google News), online market places (e.g. Amazon, eBay, Allegro,, audio-visual and music platforms (e.g. Deezer, Spotify, Netflix, Canal play, Apple TV), video sharing platforms (e.g. YouTube, Dailymotion), payment systems (e.g. PayPal, Apple Pay), social networks (e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Tuenti), app stores (e.g. Apple App Store, Google Play) or collaborative economy platforms (e.g. AirBnB,
Uber, Taskrabbit, Bla-bla car). Internet access providers fall outside the scope of this definition.

ETNO response
: No

Please explain how you would change the definition

​ETNO response: ETNO does not agree to setup a new service definition which lays ground for specific regulation for platforms. Online platforms should be considered in the scope of a new horizontal framework which covers all digital services. This includes specific rules for specific service characteristics, where indispensable. Such an approach ensures consistent consumer and data protection, fair competition and public security.

In the scope of a holistic approach, online platforms should be understood as digital services that bring together customers and/or suppliers, irrespective of being members of different or the same group. Accordingly, they are reflected within digital services defined today as ECS, IAS, AVMS and ISS. Besides online platforms like, e.g., social networks, there are technical platforms like e.g. operating systems. Technical platforms appear as crucial, basic infrastructure and, thus, show specific characteristics that resemble other infrastructures in the digital market.

What do you consider to be the key advantages of using online platforms?

​ETNO response: Online platforms…

  • make information more accessible
  • make communication and interaction easier
  • increase choice of products and services
  • create more transparent prices and the possibility to compare offers
  • increase trust between peers by providing trust mechanisms (i.e. ratings, reviews, etc.)
  • lower prices for products and services
  • lower the cost of reaching customers for suppliers
  • help with matching supply and demand
  • create new markets or business opportunities
  • help in complying with obligations in cross-border sales
  • help to share resources and improve resource-allocation
  • others:

Any service can be a platform if it brings together customers/suppliers,so any advantage is possible


Please share your general comments or ideas regarding the use of information by online platforms

​ETNO response: With regard to the management and storage of data by online platforms as well as to the protection of consumers’ rights to that data, the General Data Protection Regulation will bring more adequate protection of consumers, provided that it is correctly implemented and enforced. However, the GDPR will only partially solve the issue of creating a consistent and proportionate degree of consumer protection. It does not address the circumstance that data increasingly serves as currency.

Data is today inherently regarded as carrying a monetary value, e.g. where online platforms operate on the basis of multi-sided business cases. Therefore, the terms of “costs” and “remuneration” require re-interpretation. Horizontal consumer protection rules are mostly limited to commercial services – including online platforms – remunerated by monetary payments. Services that are being remunerated e.g. by the submission of personal data do not have to comply with the respective rules. Regarding current sector-specific regulation of
telecom operators, consumer protection rules are applicable, irrespective of these services being charged or entirely for free.

Consequently, consumers cannot rely on consistent protection standards when using commercial services and, most often, are not even aware that they give up their privacy and are being charged. Providers of such services benefit from less compliance costs and from supposedly being “for free”.

Obligations such as transparency, cost control or right of withdrawal need to be equally applied to contracts that are based on commercial processing of personal data. Also, end-users should have to explicitly agree to being charged and they should get comparable, easy-to-understand information on the service contract. Only a streamlining of obligations ensures consistent protection standards across the digital market, irrespective of the underlying business model of services.

Collecting personal data solely for the purpose of service delivery (if service delivery is technically not possible without submission of personal data) or due to legal obligations (e.g. registration) does not have to be considered as "counter-performance" (remuneration) and, thus, does not prove the commercial purpose of a service. The current legal
framework already provides some flexibility to apply rules to all commercial contracts, if “payment” is understood more broadly. Applying consistent and proportionate protection standards has to be ensured, based on an updated and proportionate framework that has no disruptive effects on service provisioning.


Please find the full response here.

Members & Observers - View companies map

  • A1 Telekom Austria Group
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  • CYTA (Cyprus Telecommunications Authority)
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  • Verizon

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