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Competition policy in the digital age

Digitalisation is reshaping competitive dynamics in the economy, creating new markets and transforming existing ones. This presents a multifaceted challenge for competition authorities. This handbook and interactive website provide access to the extensive work undertaken by the OECD to address these issues through the Competition Committee, the Global Forum on Competition and the Latin America and Caribbean Competition Forum. Download the handbook or navigate by theme.

OECD handbook on competition policy in the digital age (cover)

23 February 2022 -  Launched during the 2022 Competition Open Day, the OECD Handbook on Competition Policy in the Digital Age provides a new resource for competition authorities, policymakers, researchers and anyone else interested in digital competition policy. It highlights the key messages from the extensive body of OECD work in this area to date, including anticompetitive conduct, merger control and remedies. The Handbook provides links to all of our digital competition work, making it easier to explore the wealth of background papers, country contributions, and other resources available on over 40 topics. It also contains our views on the road ahead for digital competition policy, including the need for co-ordination among jurisdictions as they transition from diagnosing concerns, to implementing solutions.

 

Download the Handbook (pdf)

 

Download a glossary of digital competition terms

 

Watch a video about the handbook

1. Introduction to digital competition and the role of competition policy

What’s different about competition in digital markets?

A starting point for analysing competition in digital markets, and assessing whether changes are needed to existing competition policy frameworks, is the identification of some key features of digital markets. These features, which shape competitive dynamics, can include:

 Multisided markets

where digital product acts as a platform, bringing different  groups of consumers together. For example, a digital content platform may feature content creators on one side, viewers of content on another, and advertisers on another.

 Strong network effects

meaning that as the number of users grows, the value of the product to users increases. In the extreme, these network effects may lead to markets “tipping” into a monopoly.

 Substantial economies of scale and scope

since many digital markets exhibit high fixed costs and low or zero variable costs. Firms can therefore rapidly scale up, expand their geographic coverage, or potentially use their assets in one market to enter another.

 Reliance on large amounts of user data

that can be difficult to replicate and costly to analyse.

 Switching costs

for example users may have invested time and effort to create a profile on a social network or a reputation as providers on an exchange platform, which they may lose by switching.

 Often important intellectual property rights

including patents which grant the owner a limited-term monopoly over the use of a technology or method. 

 Low or zero prices

associated with business models that earn revenue from the collection of consumer data, the sale of advertising or the use of customer relationships to sell “premium” or other paid products. These business models are of increasing importance: seven of the ten largest global companies provide zero price products and services in digital markets. 

 Disruptive innovations 

that dramatically reduce transaction and intermediary costs, and may be offered outside of regulatory frameworks that limit competition by incumbents.

 Vertically-integrated and conglomerate business models

which may give rise to specific concerns about anticompetitive conduct. Digital platforms that act as “gatekeepers” between downstream firms and their customers may be the subject of competition concerns if they provide advantages to their own downstream operations. Further, firms may seek to leverage their market power from one market into another, for example with bundling and tying strategies that foreclose competition for a digital “ecosystem” of products. 

While some of these characteristics, such as network effects or zero price business models, are not new, they are taking on a new prominence in digital markets, with significant consequences for market dynamics. In particular, they may can give rise to concentrated markets, and the emergence of large digital conglomerates present in a range of markets. They may also cause “competition for the market” dynamics, in which firms compete to become the single dominant firm within a market. 

What is the role of competition policy in digital markets?

The innovations brought by digitalisation have generated substantial consumer benefits in many markets, including lower prices, greater accessibility and convenience, more variety, and new products. At the same time, several concerns have been identified with respect to competition in many digital markets, in terms of market structure, the conduct of firms, and merger activity in the sector. Each of these concerns points to declining competition intensity, demonstrated by increasing mark-ups, falling entry rates (especially in digital-intensive sectors), and growing concentration (see, for instance, Bajgar et al. (2019[1]), Calvino and Criscuolo (2019[2])), as a symptom of the problem.

In general, competition policy generally focuses on cases where market power is durable, rather than a temporary reward for innovation that can be contested by a competitor with novel technologies. Concerns about the competition impacts of durable market power could  be particularly pronounced when:

 A dominant firm behaves anticompetitively

for example using its position to exclude competitors from a market, or acquiring potential emerging competitors simply to prevent their products from reaching the market

 Competition is distorted by regulation

that allows incumbent firms to maintain a dominant position for reasons unrelated to the attractiveness of its products to consumers

 Features of demand or supply prevent entry by new firms, or expansion by dominant firms’ competitors

including very strong network effects or economies of scale and scope,  information asymmetries between firms and consumers, switching costs, or consumer behavioural biases (such as framing bias - being influenced by the way different options are presented -, salience bias - focusing on the most prominent choice item - , and default bias - a low tendency to switch to unambiguously better offers)

Some concerns about dynamics in digital markets fall squarely within a competition enforcement context, namely with respect to anticompetitive conduct and mergers giving rise to durable market power. However, competition authorities will need to adapt their analytical tools to the unique conditions of digital markets, including multi-sidedness and business models involving a price of zero. They may also need to grapple with new theories of harm that may not fall within established frameworks, and which will require legislative or at least analytical changes to apply. Further, they must adapt their processes, to match the speed of evolution in digital markets and ensure that potentially anticompetitive conduct is scrutinised.

Other concerns in digital markets cannot be addressed by competition authorities, or at least not directly. The size and reach of large digital firms across multiple markets has led some to highlight the potential for systemic risks, rent-seeking (for example, through lobbying activities) and inequality. While vigorous competition in markets can mitigate each of these risks, competition enforcement and competition policy more broadly may not be equipped to tackle them head-on.

Many concerns fall within a grey zone between these two categories – in other words, it is not always clear what can be addressed by competition enforcement, and what cannot. Competition authorities have begun to explore issues ranging from labour market power by large firms, to consumer privacy. These efforts include both enforcement work, as well as broader competition policy and advocacy efforts. Going forward, competition authorities will need to identify the boundaries of competition enforcement, and clarify where other regulators, such as consumer protection authorities, will be better-suited to address an issue. A range of proposals have also been made for new digital regulators to be established. These regulators could promote competition outside traditional competition enforcement frameworks, and pursue additional policy objectives, acting essentially as a sectoral regulator. Even where competition authorities may not be involved in enforcing these new regulations, however, they have a role to play in advocating for procompetitive regulatory design.

There is, therefore, a great deal of work to be done to address competition concerns in digital markets, and to ensure that current regulatory frameworks are up to the task.

2. Understanding digital market dynamics

The market characteristics, business models and competitive dynamics in digital markets have been  longstanding themes of the Competition Committee’s work, beginning with a roundtable on e-commerce as far back as 2000. Understanding these features, and how they differ from other markets, will be essential for effective competition enforcement and competition policy more broadly.

Some key messages that have emerged from discussions in this area are:

 Digital markets exhibit a range of characteristics that may lead to concentration, market power, and winner-takes-most dynamics...

including network effects, consumer lock-in, and economies of scale and scope, among others.

 Concentration (or share of revenue) statistics must be interpreted with caution in a competition context. 

In particular, measures of sector concentration may give misleading indications about the intensity of competitive conditions in markets, although they may be relevant to other policy issues such as systemic risk and lobbying power. That being said, a range of other indicators, including mark-ups, suggest that durable market power is on the rise in digital markets.

 The markets for many digital products are multisided.  

Digital platforms, like any other multisided market, feature cross-platform network effects, which mean that a firm’s decisions in one side of a market, for example on pricing, affect demand on another. These network effects can lead to market power and amplify the impacts of anticompetitive conduct, but they may also make generate significant consumer benefits, for examply by enabling cross-subsidisation. Advertising plays a particularly important role in many of these multisided digital markets, especially when services are provided to consumers free of charge, as is often the case for search engines and social networks.

 Many digital business models involve some degree of vertical integration and conglomerate structures. 

Data are a central element many digital markets, as a competitive asset, potential entry barrier, and even dimension of quality. They have also led to new markets, and enabled new business models as well as strategies such as personalised pricing.

  • A particular focus of recent competition policy discussions regarding vertical integration is the gatekeeper position of some digital platforms. This refers to the position that digital platforms have when firms rely on them for access to consumers, and may give rise to complaints of anticompetitive conduct (for example if the platform also competes downstream in the marketplace it operates).
  • Conglomerate business models also play a significant role in digital markets, given the rise of digital ecosystems of interconnected products. These competitive dynamics in these ecosystems will depend on their degree of opennness to third parties and the potential for competition among ecosystems. Where intra-ecosystem network effects are sufficiently strong, there is a risk that the core platform and related markets will tip into a monopoly position.

 The demand-side characteristics of a market can play a crucial role in competitive dynamics, and should be incorporated into competition analysis.

Particular considerations that may be warranted in digital markets are those related to zero-priced products, search and switching costs, and choice and information overload. These characteristics may be incorporated into firms’ strategies and could contribute to further entrenching market power.

OECD work on digital market dynamics

 

The Digital Economy (2012)  More resources 

Implications of E-commerce for Competition Policy (2018)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Market Concentration (2018)  Issues paper   Videos  More resources 

Abuse of Dominance in Digital Markets (2020)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Rethinking Antitrust Tools for Multisided Platforms (2018)   Publication   More resources

Competition Economics of Digital Ecosystems (2020)  Videos  More resources

Big Data (2016)  Background note    Video   More resources  

Consumer Data Rights and Competition (2020)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Competition in Digital Advertising Markets (2020)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Consumer-facing Remedies (2018)   Background note  Videos  More resources

Blockchain and Competition Policy (2018)  Issues paper  Publication   Videos  More resources

Personalised Pricing (2018)  Background note   Video  More resources 

Competition in Labour Markets (2019)   Background note   Videos   More resources 

Competition For-the-market (2019)  Background note  More resources 

The Impact of Disruptive Innovation on Competition Law Enforcement (2015)  Background note   More resources 

The Concept of Potential Competition (2021)  Background note   Video   More resources 

Price Discrimination (2016)  Background note   More resources 

3. Adapting analytical tools to digital markets

The characteristics of digital markets can make analysis challenging for competition authorities. Although the fundamental economic logic of standard competition analysis remains valid, the way in which analytical tools are applied must be adapted. For example, a hypothetical monopolist test remains a valid and useful framework for defining markets and identifying the competitive environment around a firm in digital markets. However, a standard SSNIP methodology will not work for digital multisided markets with different groups of consumers that have interrelated demand, monetary prices of zero, and rapid product change due to innovation.

These characteristics are not necessarily new – most competition authorities have experience conducting assessments in multisided markets, for example. However, the frequency with which these characteristics arise in digital markets, and their centrality in shaping market dynamics, calls for a careful examination of the methodology and assumptions embedded in established analytical tools.

OECD work has explored several areas where analysis must be adapted to digital markets, namely:

 Network effects

Competition analysis in digital markets should include an assessment of the importance of network effects. These effects can generate significant benefits for consumers and may be a source of potential efficiencies, but on the other hand could constitute an entry barrier that makes markets less contestable. In some situations, network effects may be sufficiently important to create a risk of tipping into monopolies, such as when network effects and associated data collection give rise to self-reinforcing feedback loops.

 Multi-sided platform markets

The relationship between different sides of a platform gives rise to cross-platform network externalities, the term used to refer to the advantages obtained on one side from an increase in participation on the other side of a market. For example, consumers using an online marketplace benefit when more sellers offer their services, and similarly sellers benefit when more consumers use the platform. Competition analysis must take into account these externalities when they play a determinative role in the market (e.g. in terms of price structure), since failing to do so will lead to erroneous conclusions about the responsiveness of demand. For instance, SSNIP tests must be modified to take into account the relationship between demand on different sides of the platform during the market definition process. Further, the assessment of market power will also need to be adapted, potentially using adjusted Lerner indices.

 Rapid change in the competitive landscape

Analysis rooted in defined digital markets will need to be interpreted with caution, given that many digital markets exhibit rapid change. Further, the boundaries of product markets may be blurred – even if products are not perfect functional substitutes, for example, do they still directly compete for consumer time, attention and data? Competition analysis must also grapple with the potential entry of new competitors in a market, and new product development pipelines. To do so, they may need to consider the innovation capacity of firms, which may provide a different picture from current product markets (existing competitors may undertake limited innovation, and there may be the threat of entry from innovators in related markets).

 Non-price competition

Many digital markets feature important dimensions of non-price competition, and thus analysis focused on prices (for example when measuring the responsiveness of demand) may not present a complete picture – especially when consumers are currently obtaining products at a price of zero. Competition analysis is needed to both uncover the relevant non-price dimensions of competition and assess the potential impact of the conduct or merger on these dimensions.

 Broad geographic market definition

Digital markets may be notionally borderless, but analysis will be needed to uncover limitations to the geographic scope of markets (such as regulatory or linguistic limitations).

OECD work on adaptation of analytical tools to digital markets

 

Rethinking Antitrust Tools for Multisided Platforms (2018)   Publication   More resources

Practical Approaches to Assessing Digital Markets for Competition Law Enforcement (2019)  Background note   More resources 

Big Data (2016)  Background note    Video   More resources 

Implications of E-commerce for Competition Policy (2018)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Geographic Market Definition across National Borders (2016)  Background note   More resources 

Competition Economics of Digital Ecosystems (2020)  Videos  More resources

Non-price Effects of Mergers (2018)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Quality Considerations in Zero Price Markets (2018)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Consumer Data Rights and Competition (2020)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Practical Approaches to Assessing Digital Platform Markets for Competition Law Enforcement (2019)  Background note  More resources

Evidence Gathering in Cartel Investigations (2020)  Background note   More resources 

4. Tackling new forms of misconduct in digital markets

Competition authorities face a complex environment when addressing potential misconduct in digital markets. In particular, many concerns relate to conduct, strategies and innovations that are ambiguous in their effect because they hold significant procompetitive potential, such as seamlessly integrated services, greater transparency, dynamic pricing, lower searching costs from price comparison websites, and the convenience of e-commerce. Businesses also benefit, including small businesses that enjoy greater access to consumers and the ability to leverage large platform network effects. However, these benefits may also have a corresponding competition harm. Algorithmic pricing may be a tool for collusion. Network effects and economies of scale and scope can increase the effectiveness of exclusionary conduct by dominant firms. The centrality of digital platforms in certain markets can enable vertical foreclosure, or the imposition of restraints that limit the intensity of competition. And the underlying characteristics of digital markets could give rise to tipping, meaning that the effects of abusive conduct may be particularly serious in these markets.

Thus, dealing with potential misconduct in digital markets will often require a careful balancing act. The grey zone between clearly procompetitive and clearly anticompetitive conduct seems to have become bigger, while the risks of not intervening have become more serious. Further, there are concerns that novel forms of misconduct, such as algorithmic collusion, can be difficult to detect, and in some cases harder to prosecute under current competition laws. This has led to questions about whether certain concepts must be revisited, ranging from the definition of a collusive agreement, to the application to digital markets of theories of harm focused on vertical integration in network industries.

In sum, the OECD’s work on misconduct in digital markets has found that many of the core principles, analytical concepts, and areas of concern continue to be relevant. However, authorities will need to be on the lookout for new forms of misconduct and new tools for detection and analysis. At the same time, there is growing consensus that some concerns cannot be addressed under current enforcement frameworks, either because they do not apply, or they may not be effective in rapidly-changing markets, and as such might need a degree of ex ante regulation. This is described further in Section 7.

OECD work on misconduct in digital markets

 

Abuse of Dominance in Digital Markets (2020)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Algorithms and Collusion (2017)  Publication   More resources 

Implications of E-commerce for Competition Policy (2018)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Across-Platform Parity Agreements (2015)  More resources 

Hub-and-Spoke Arrangements (2019)  Background note   Video  More resources 

Blockchain and Competition Policy (2018)  Issues paper  Publication   Videos  More resources

Personalised Pricing (2018)  Background note   Video  More resources 

Competition in Labour Markets (2019)   Background note   Videos   More resources 

5. Merger control in digital markets

Mergers in digital markets have led to some fundamental questions for competition authorities in terms of the economic foundations of their work, their analytical tools, and their legislative frameworks. Brand new theories of harm with colourful names have attracted new attention, and questions have been raised about past decisions.

While many established concepts underpinning merger control remain valid, and authorities may in fact need to dust off theories designed long ago in traditional markets. At the same time, new market dynamics and characteristics will need to be factored in.

Some considerations in this process include:

 The prominence of vertical and conglomerate theories of harm in recent discussions about digital markets. 

Many competition concerns in digital markets appear to feature a vertical component, namely foreclosure strategies focused on access to a given platform, technology or dataset. Digital sector mergers may also be conglomerate in nature (they bring together firms that are not currently competitors or in a supply relationship). However, the distinction between these categories and horizontal mergers is becoming blurred. Downstream consumers may one day become a large platform’s rival in some markets, and incumbents may rapidly enter related markets by building off their knowledge and resources. Competition authorities must grapple with this complexity, and may need to consider vertical and conglomerate mergers, which previously captured little attention, given the particular characteristics of digital markets, in addition to potential future horizontal concerns.

 New merger and acquisition strategies may need to be considered in merger review...

and may require adaptations to existing frameworks. In particular, authorities are increasingly exploring acquisitions by incumbents of nascent competitors, which may not have attracted significant attention, or even been notified, in the past.

 The effects of mergers on dynamic competition, and non-price dimensions of competition, may require ...

particular attention and adapted analytical tools. In particular, competition authorities may find the effects of a merger on innovation abilities and incentives to be especially important in some digital markets, requiring them to grapple with long-term considerations and the associated uncertainty. Careful attention will also be needed to the validity, and merger specificity, of claimed efficiencies when there is a risk of these harms.

 While some claims have suggested past failures ...

in merger control are responsible for current trends in digital markets (for example with respect to mark-ups), evidence on this point is limited. In particular, relatively few past mergers have been identified as having had a substantial negative impact on competition. However, more ex-post assessments of mergers are needed to better understand the role of mergers in current digital market trends, and whether tools and concepts should change. Competition authorities should engage in these assessments, and may wish to explore co-operation with academia to gain insights on a larger number of past digital sector merger decisions.

 





Oecd work on merger control in digital markets

 

Merger Control in Dynamic Markets (2019)   Background note  Video   More resources 

Start-ups and Killer Acquisitions (2020)   Background note   Videos  More resources 

Vertical mergers in the technology, media and telecom sector (2019)   Background note   Video  More resources 

Conglomerate Effects of Mergers (2020)   Background note   Videos  More resources 

6. Competition law remedies in digital markets

The preceding chapters highlight the unique features of digital markets that may give rise to competition problems, and the unique forms that misconduct and merger harms can take in these markets. This uniqueness poses challenges for the selection of remedies as well. While durable market power may well arise, it is different in character to the natural monopolies of the past – particularly given the role of dynamic competition, innovation, and complex product ecosystems. Should authorities therefore revise their approach to remedies, for example placing a particular emphasis on behavioural measures?

Three key messages arise from the OECD’s work in this area:

  Structural remedies and line of business restrictions ...

remain the simplest to monitor andarguably most effective approach to anticompetitive mergers and conduct. However, they may not be feasible in digital markets, particularly when they are incompatible with platform business models and rely on unsupported conclusions about the source of market power (for example when they equate data inputs for which substitutes exist with the network monopolies of the past).

  Behavioural remedies require careful design and oversight, 

given the incentives of the firms subject to these remedies. Co-ordination with sector regulators and other authorities with such oversight functions may therefore be needed. Further, no single behavioural remedy is a single bullet in digital markets – conditions in a market must be suitable for data portability or interoperability measures, for example, to be effective.

  It is crucial for competition authorities to consider ...

dynamics on the demand side of digital markets. These dynamics can exacerbate harm, and may limit the effectiveness of any remedies imposed. The sources of demand-side problems in digital markets should be identified, and, while remedies to address these problems are particularly difficult to design and implement, should not be ignored.

OECD work on competition law remedies in digital markets

 

Data Portability, Interoperability and Competition (2021)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Line of Business Restrictions (2020)  Background note   Videos  More resources

Consumer-facing Remedies (2018)   Background note  Videos  More resources

Licensing of IP Rights and Competition Law (2019)  Background note  Videos  More resources

 

7. The impact of disruptive innovation on sectors and regulatory frameworks

While competition law enforcement occupies much of the discussion on digital competition issues, the role of regulatory barriers to competition is also crucial. In particular, regulatory frameworks that are out of date, unnecessarily restrictive, or premised on business models undergoing disruption can result in serious competition harms. They may prevent new innovations from emerging, or create an imbalanced playing field that favours incumbents and lead to disputes about compliance.

The OECD work on disruptive innovation has explored how these new business models, often based on digital technology, can fundamentally reshape markets. They can introduce new products and services, cut costs, limit intermediation, and improve quality – particularly in previously stagnant markets featuring a small number of large incumbents. Competition policy, including competition authorities, have a key role to play in identifying regulatory frameworks that unnecessarily restrict competition, and proposing alternatives. This process is not without challenges, as it involves balancing sometimes competing policy objectives (potentially including new concerns, such as data protection), and significant uncertainty in markets undergoing rapid changes. Some strategies, such as the use of regulatory sandboxes and close co-operation among regulators, can help.

The OECD has updated its Competition Assessment Toolkit to take account of the unique challenges that may emerge with respect to regulatory barriers to competition in digital markets. The Toolkit provides practical guidance on detecting, assessing, and identifying alternatives to regulatory barriers to competition.

Competition Assessment Toolkit Volume 2 cover
Access the full text of the toolkit

OECD work on disruptive innovation and regulation

 

Disruptive Innovation (2015)   Issues paper   More resources

Financial Markets (2015, 2019)   Background note    Issues note   Videos   More resources: Competition and Disruptive Innovation in Financial markets (2019) l Digital Disruption in Financial markets (2015)

Legal Services (2016)   Issues paper   More resources 

Taxi, Ride-sourcing and Ride-sharing Services (2018)   Background note   Videos  More resources

Land Transport (2016)   Background note   More resources 

Competition in Labour Markets (2019)   Background note   Videos   More resources 

Competition Issues in News Media and Digital Platforms (2021)   Background note   Videos  More resources 

Radical Innovation in the Electricity Sector (2017)  More resources

8. Looking forward: Adapting competition policy to the digital era

Digital markets have posed significant challenges for competition law and policy frameworks in recent years. The OECD’s work in this area has highlighted that the core concepts, principles and economic foundation of competition policy are as relevant as ever in these markets. In fact, many well-established theories of harm and core concepts will be vital to ensure that digital markets remain dynamic and innovative. Anticompetitive horizontal mergers, agreements among competitors and vertical restraints can produce as much harm in digital markets as in traditional ones – in fact, network effects and strong economies of scale and scope may amplify this harm. Further, many competition law frameworks remain sufficiently flexible to tackle some of the novel theories of harm and unique market characteristics that emerge in digital markets.

At the same time, there is a growing consensus that at least some parts of the competition policy framework must be adjusted in response to digitalisation. Some proposals include:

 Enhancing merger control frameworks...

including adjusting notification thresholds to capture anticompetitive acquisitions of emerging competitors, increasing the emphasis on innovation and dynamic competition issues, explicitly including digital-specific issues such as data access or intermediation power in merger legislation, and placing the burden of proof on merging parties to show the lack of competition harm in certain situations. Ex-post assessments of past merger decisions have also been pointed to as an important tool to learn from past experience in digital markets as it accumulated.

 Strengthening abuse of dominance (or monopolisation) enforcement...

in particular by either shifting the burden onto dominant firms to show the procompetitive effects of certain types of conduct, and by using more interim measures to preserve competition while a case is ongoing.

 Clear guidelines...

to help firms understand the situations in which digital-specific competition concerns may arise, and how they will be analysed. 

 Enhancing the digital tools and expertise available to competition authorities...

given the complex nature of these markets and the conduct that may arise. Authorities are establishing dedicated teams focused on digital markets, and are experimenting with new digital resources such as the use of artificial intelligence to monitor remedy implementation. 

 Deeper international co-operation among competition authorities

given the cross-border nature of digital markets and the common issues they pose. 

 Greater use of market studies to take a holistic view of competition problems in digital markets...

since they may emerge outside the context of a merger or enforcement case. Several authorities have used these tools to advocate for regulatory change and improve their knowledge in areas such as digital advertising, FinTech and patent assertion entities.

Beyond these ideas to strengthen existing competition policy frameworks, there has been a range of proposals seeking to create new ex ante regulatory regimes and legislative measures. These proposals reflect a view that existing frameworks may not capture the full range of competition problems that arise in digital markets, or that current enforcement processes are too slow or ineffective given the rapid pace evolution of these markets. Further, regulatory proposals also seek to recognise that competition concerns in digital markets, generally stemming from durable market power, may overlap with other policy concerns, such as fair trading, data protection and innovation, among others.

These proposals, and legislative measures to implement them, are rapidly developing, and will remain a focus of OECD work in the years to come. While many of the core objectives and concerns motivating these proposals are the same, there is a growing divergence in the precise approach taken, including:

  • - definitions of key concepts (for example what are referred to as “gatekeepers” in some jurisdictions)
  • - the range of prohibited conduct and the remedies available for non-compliance
  • - the nature of prohibitions (per se or subject to effects-based analysis)
  • - the institutional model for enforcement

Looking ahead, the gains from greater co-operation and co-ordination among competition policymakers in this area can be significant, both in terms of improving the effectiveness of the measures in question and reducing the compliance burden on firms from diverging approaches (particularly if there are attendant risks for innovation incentives).

OECD work on adapting competition policy to the digital era

 

Competition Enforcement and Regulatory Alternatives (2021)  Background note   Videos  More resources 

Ex Ante Regulation and Competition in Digital Markets (2021)  Background note   Videos  More resources

Competition Economics of Digital Ecosystems (2020)  Videos  More resources

Blockchain and Competition Policy (2018)  Issues paper  Publication   Videos  More resources

 

 

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