On 20 June 2019 the European Parliament and the European Council adopted the Regulation on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (2019/1150) (Regulation). The Regulation will have direct effect in EU member states from 12 July 2020.

When does the Regulation apply and to whom?

The Regulation will apply to online platforms and search engines that provide their services to business and corporate users established in the EU, where those businesses offer goods or services to consumers located in the EU.

Key provisions

Terms and Conditions: Online service providers will need to change their T&Cs to cover a number of requirements including. 

  • 15 day minimum notice period for changes to the T&Cs and a right for business users to terminate the contract if they do not agree to the proposed changes.
  • 30 day minimum notice period for terminating the contract that must be accompanied by reasons why the online service provider is taking such action.
  • Information on business user's right to terminate the contract.
  • Indicate the availability of other channels for the sales of the business user's goods and services.
  • Explanation of impact that the contract has on business user's ownership and control of their IP rights.
  • Description of access to personal and other data provided or generated by the business user after expiry of the contract.
  • Details of at least two mediators that can be used to settle disputes between the online service provider and the business user.

Ranking: New transparency obligations for search results and ranking: 

  • Search engines must maintain an up-to-date, public, plain and intelligible description of the main parameters determining the ranking of links.
  • Intermediaries must include similar information in their T&Cs.
  • Where ranking influenced by remuneration, online service providers must provide a description of the options available and the effects of remuneration on ranking must be provided.  
  • If a search engine alters or delists a website on the basis of a third party notification, the affected business user must be offered the chance to inspect that third party notification.

Differentiated Treatment: 

  • Online service providers must provide a description of differentiated treatment given to their own group's goods and services (Intermediaries must provide this information in their T&Cs).

Other provisions: 

  • Business users must have access to an internal complaint handling system.
  • The availability of mediators or an ongoing mediation cannot prevent business users from issuing legal proceedings against an online service provider.
  • Trade bodies and other representative organisations will be able to take action against online service providers for failure to comply with the Regulation.
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