Spotify, Deezer and others call for stronger EU action against US rivals

Music streaming services Spotify and Deezer joined European business and industry bodies in calling on EU regulators to take tougher action to curb what they say are the unfair practices of online platforms.

EU governments are set in the coming weeks to come up with a joint position on a proposed platform-to-business (P2B) law which is meant to ensure greater transparency and fairness in the digital economy.

Driven by concerns over privacy and data protection, the European Union has in recent years introduced tougher rules to regulate online markets dominated by U.S. tech giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon.

Spotify spared from Commission's geoblocking plans for now

The European Commission has narrowly avoided a showdown with the music industry and e-book publishers over its new plans to stop e-commerce firms charging buyers more if they live in certain EU countries.

But in a joint letter, businesses and industry bodies such as the European Publishers Council and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, said the P2B proposal did not go far enough.

“Targeted measures to prevent unfair practices by platforms are needed if the legislation is to promote sustained digital growth,” they said in a joint letter dated Sept. 24 seen by Reuters.

Unveiled by the European Commission in April, the P2B law would force app stores, search engines, e-commerce sites and hotel booking websites such as Expedia to be more transparent about how they rank search results and why they delist some services.

It would also give companies the right to group together and sue online platforms.

The European business and industry groups did not name any platforms in their letter, which was addressed to EU ministers of competitiveness who are due to meet in Brussels on Sept. 27.

“Instead of being gateways that facilitate access, these platforms use their privileged position to become gatekeepers to the digital economy,” they said in the letter.

MEPs want to lift online geoblocking for Spotify and ebooks

MEPs in the Internal Market Committee approved geoblocking rules that could open up access to music streaming sites and ebook sales across the EU, going beyond the European Commission’s proposal and setting up a fight with industry groups.

They also said unfair business practices include large platforms favouring their own services, unilateral and sudden changes in terms and conditions, arbitrary marketing bans, mandatory use of a particular billing system and arbitrary restrictions on data use.

Tech lobbying group CCIA, which represents Google, Amazon and eBay have previously said there is no evidence of a systemic problem to justify more regulations.

Once EU governments have decided on a joint position, they will have to negotiate with the Commission and European Parliament on the final legislation.

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