Anti-monopoly Guidelines for Platform Economy Released

Does "big data mastering" constitute a monopoly?

This time the standard is clear

  In order to prevent and stop monopolistic activities in the platform economy, and promote the orderly, innovative and healthy development of the platform economy, on February 7, the Anti-Monopoly Commission of the State Council formulated and issued the Anti-Monopoly Guidelines of the Anti-Monopoly Commission of the State Council on the Platform Economy (hereinafter referred to as the "Guide" "), emphasizing that the anti-monopoly law and supporting regulations and rules apply to all industries.

  In recent years, my country’s platform economy has developed rapidly, and new formats and models have emerged one after another. At the same time, operators in the field of platform economy require businesses to "choose one of two," big data is familiar, and failure to declare and implement operator concentration and other suspected monopolies. Questions and reports are increasing day by day.

  These actions harm fair market competition and the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, and are not conducive to fully stimulating the innovation and creativity of the whole society, promoting the innovative development of platform economy, and building new advantages and new momentum for economic and social development.

  To this end, the Anti-Monopoly Commission of the State Council has issued the "Guide" in accordance with the Anti-Monopoly Law and other relevant regulations.

The "Guide" has six chapters and 24 articles, including general provisions, monopoly agreements, abuse of dominant market positions, concentration of operators, abuse of administrative power to exclude and restrict competition, and supplementary provisions.

  Compared with the traditional industry, the monopoly agreement behavior in the platform economy has some new characteristics.

  One is that the behavior is more concealed.

The use of data, algorithms, platform rules, etc. makes it more difficult to discover and determine monopoly agreements.

Data, algorithms, platform rules, etc. may help operators quickly and frequently exchange sensitive information such as prices, and timely monitor the performance of co-conspirators, and algorithms, etc., have replaced traditional communication methods such as telephone, conference, and email, possibly through digital signals. The transmission is to realize the exchange of specific sensitive information, increasing the difficulty of discovery and investigation by law enforcement agencies.

  Second, it is easier to reach a hub and spoke agreement.

Platform operators organize bilateral or multilateral groups for interaction and matching, assume the role of market organizer, and set up and intervene in price mechanisms, trading mechanisms, and competition rules.

With the platform operator as the axis and the platform operator as the spokes, it is easier to implement the act of using algorithms and other technical tools to reach and implement monopoly agreements.

  Third, platform operators may put forward requirements on the trading conditions between the platform operators and other competitive platforms.

For example, it is common for platform operators to require operators on the platform to provide them with trading conditions equal to or better than other competitive platforms in terms of price and quantity.

  The Anti-Monopoly Committee of the State Council pointed out that under the current anti-monopoly law, the above-mentioned actions may constitute a monopoly agreement, or may constitute an abuse of a dominant market position, and a specific analysis should be combined with the case.

  In view of the characteristics of monopolistic agreement behavior in the platform economy, the "Guide" makes corresponding provisions. For example, as stipulated in Article 6, horizontal monopoly agreements that may be reached by operators in the competitive platform economy, including "utilization of data, algorithms, platform rules, etc. Achieve coordinated behavior".

  In response to hot issues such as “choose one” and “big data”, which are frequently reflected by all parties in the society, the “Guide” clarifies that it is necessary to first define the relevant market and analyze the relevant market Whether the market has a dominant position, and then analyze whether it constitutes an abuse of market dominance according to the case.

The “Guide” lists in detail the consideration factors for determining or presuming that an operator has a dominant market position, including the operator’s market share, relevant market competition conditions, the operator’s ability to control the market, the operator’s financial and technical conditions, and other operators’ Dependence, difficulty of market entry, etc.

  At the same time, the "Guide" detailed the manifestations of abuse of market dominance, such as unfair price behavior, below-cost sales, refusal to trade, restricted trading, tie-in sales, or additional treatment of unreasonable trading conditions, etc. Such market entities operate in compliance with laws and regulations.

  From the perspectives of punitive measures and incentive measures, the "Guide" further refines the criteria for judging whether behaviors such as "choose one out of two" constitute restricted transactions: platform operators use blocked stores, search rights, traffic restrictions, and technical barriers. Restrictions on the implementation of punitive measures such as deduction of security deposits can generally be deemed to constitute restricted transactions due to direct damage to market competition and consumer interests; platform operators implement them through incentives such as subsidies, discounts, concessions, and traffic resource support If there is evidence to prove that it has an obvious exclusion or restriction effect on market competition, it may also be deemed to constitute a restricted transaction.

  Focusing on the concentration of operators in the field of platform economy, the "Guide" distinguishes the calculation methods of different types of platform operators in terms of reporting standards.

For platform operators who only provide information matching, charge commissions and other service fees, they can calculate their turnover based on the service fees charged by the platform and other platform income; if the platform operators participate in market competition on the platform side or play a leading role, they can also Calculate the transaction amount involved in the platform.

  At the same time, the "Guide" specifies that the concentration of undertakings under the agreement control structure falls within the scope of antitrust review.

  The “Guide” emphasizes that if the concentration of undertakings does not meet the reporting standards but has or may have the effect of eliminating or restricting competition, the State Council’s anti-monopoly law enforcement agency will investigate and deal with it in accordance with the law.

At the same time, it clarified the factors that can be considered in evaluating the competitive impact of the concentration of operators in the platform economy, and the type of restrictive conditions that the Anti-monopoly Law Enforcement Agency of the State Council can determine.

  In the next step, anti-monopoly law enforcement agencies will deeply grasp the laws and characteristics of platform economic development, strengthen platform economic anti-monopoly supervision, continuously improve platform economic supervision rules, strictly regulate fair and civilized law enforcement, protect fair market competition, safeguard consumer interests, and promote platforms in my country Economic regulation, orderly innovation and healthy development.

  China Youth Daily · China Youth Daily reporter Ning Di Source: China Youth Daily