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The digital economy


Dutch society is changing fundamentally because of digitalization. Businesses increasingly use data and algorithms in order to offer services and products that are now part of our daily lives, or which offer new opportunities. Think of the rise of online platforms, search engines, the Internet of Things, and blockchain technology. Thanks to these innovations, the digital economy can offer businesses and consumers valuable options and opportunities. Each day, consumers use the internet to find information, buy and sell services and products, play games, and keep in touch with friends. The Internet of Things connects various devices with the internet, and, by doing so, offers businesses and consumers innovative solutions with regard to energy conservation, among other areas.

Competition and innovation in the digital economy

At the same time, however, more and more attention is given to the risks of digitalization. Consumers must be able to purchase products or services online with confidence. In order to be able to do so, they must have clear information on how their data is used. Online platforms can grow fast, and disrupt existing markets. That creates opportunities for innovation, but it also carries the risk of dominant positions. Consumers would consequently have less choice, and competitors fewer opportunities. We want to stimulate that businesses and consumers have access to a good and open internet. That is why businesses should comply with consumer protection and competition rules when developing innovative products and services.

Results from the consultation

For two weeks, visitors were able to share their thoughts on the topic of 'the digital economy' on the dedicated website for the online discussion ( We also asked everyone to leave comments via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. We received a total of 22 comments via These ranged from short suggestions to extensive pleas. They show a sense of concern about discrimination against consumers based on their data profiles, and on targeted advertisements. The government should primarily take the lead, and set a good example when it comes to sharing data for new applications. The comments perfectly tie in with the topics that ACM outlined in 2018's InSight, its annual publication presented to Dutch legislators.

ACM and the digital economy

The main challenge is, on the one hand, giving free rein to innovations by keeping markets open, and, on the other hand, ensuring that consumers benefit from the advantages. In a position paper (in Dutch) for a hearing at the Dutch House of Representatives, ACM explained how it contributes to this. In the next few years, ACM will focus in particular on the following subjects within the digital economy:

  • A good and open infrastructure to ensure a fast and affordable internet.
  • The power of businesses resulting from the use of data and algorithms.
  • Clear information and freedom of choice for online consumers.

See also