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The digital economy

Promoting an open and fair digital economy

ACM wishes to protect people and businesses against the market power of large technology firms, and against online misleading practices and manipulation, thereby allowing everyone to reap the benefits of the digital economy.

The digital economy offers new opportunities and new risks. Through its regulation, ACM wishes to ensure that everyone benefits from the opportunities afforded by the digital economy while being protected against the risks thereof.

In 2023, ACM will focus on the following three topics:

1. Dark patterns and transparency

Online retailers are able to capitalize on consumer behavior directly and to influence them in various ways. So-called ‘dark patterns’ are often incorporated into the designs of websites. Such patterns nudge people into certain directions. In such situations, online persuasion turns into illegal manipulation and deception. That is why ACM will:

  • Take action against abuses of dark patterns, such as misleading countdown timers and ‘was/now’ prices;
  • Take action against fake engagement, such as fake reviews;
  • Take action against misleading practices and manipulation of consumers in games, such as aggressive marketing practices aimed at children, in-game currencies, and loot boxes;
  • Collaborate with other digital regulators to realize effective online transparency.

2. Accessible platform markets and fair terms and conditions

In the online economy, platforms such as marketplaces and search engines match supply and demand on a large scale. That comes with responsibilities. New European rules will come into force in 2023, which will further tighten the responsibilities of platform companies, and will keep platform markets open and fair by curbing the market power of online platforms sooner. ACM will therefore:

  • take action against unfair practices of online platforms such as applying unfair access conditions or user conditions;
  • investigate data power and rankings on online platforms;
  • provide information about the new European regulations (and the oversight thereof), such as the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act.

3. Vendor lock-in

As a result of technical, financial and/or organizational impediments, organizations may become ‘locked into’ a single supplier, for example if they have made long-term investments in the use of a single IT system or if they take out multiple services from a supplier within a single system. Such economic dependence may lead to exploitation (of buyers) or exclusion (of competitors). ACM will therefore:

  • investigate anti-competitive concerns in the cloud market;
  • investigate vendor lock-in on the IT market for health care.