Digitalization – online consumers
People in the Netherlands are very active online: we shop online, we are active on social media, we play games, and we watch videos and shows online. Consumers often need to share personal information in order to gain access to free online services. But how well are consumers protected against problems concerning the privacy and security of their information? How do the benefits of having a single bundle of telecommunication services compensate the drawbacks of not being able to switch easily?
The role of ACM
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) wishes to prevent anticompetitive problems and consumer problems online. ACM assesses whether companies strengthen their potentially dominant positions on the Internet by using personal information of users. In addition, ACM makes certain that online stores comply with the rules. At the same time, we want to enable new firms to offer their services online.
Responses to this theme
In a roundtable meeting, ACM sat down with over a dozen companies to discuss the concept of bundles. At the end of the discussion, these companies believed that consumers should be able to switch, particularly with regard to separate, individual services, but also when it comes to bundles. Other topics included content and telecom. Several telecom companies own exclusive rights to a specific television station or the exclusive rights to broadcast certain sports games. How does this affect consumers when choosing a broadband plan?
On the dedicated website for the online discussion (denkmee.acm.nl), seven provocative statements were published about this theme, two of which concerned bundles. Several consumers indicated that the fact that more and more telecom products are included in a single bundle could be a problem. In addition, we put several provocative statements and questions on the Facebook page of ConsuWijzer for consumers to respond to. The responses we received can serve as input to our strategy with regard to malware, online security, privacy, and bundles.
In 2016, ACM will further investigate whether or not product bundling in the telecom market is an actual problem. And if so, what is the magnitude of this problem? We will assess this by sitting down with providers of television shows or series, and with consumer organizations. Some television shows or series can only be watched exclusively via a telecom company. In 2016, we will look into the effects of this practice: what impact does it have on, for example, the market for broadband access services?