The Public Sector
TU Wien Bibliothek
The Public Sector
TU Wien Bibliothek

Journal Article

Title Internet Platforms as Infrastructures of the Digital Age
Author Krisch, Astrid orcid logo ; Plank, Leonhard orcid logo
Published on 02 Apr 2019
Published by Technische Universität Wien
Published in Volume 45 • Issue 1 • 2019 , pages 13-16
AC AC15334455
DOI 10.34749/oes.2019.3020
URN urn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:4-3020


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Abstract (English)

Internet platforms like Google, Amazon or Facebook substantially shape our everyday lives. With their coordinated products, they create their own socio-technical ecosystems and act as gatekeepers that set and control rules. Their economic dominance is increasingly being addressed by competition authorities in Europe. Contrary to how they are often perceived, platforms are not neutral “intermediaries”, but powerful actors that shape opinions and public discourses - so far largely without much public control. Yet recently, debates regarding appropriate regulatory strategies are gaining momentum. To limit market dominance, restrictions to horizontal mergers in the same or similar sectors (e.g. Facebook's takeovers of Instagram or Whatsapp) and the banning of vertical mergers are discussed. This is done to prevent the market dominance of the platforms from spilling over from one business sphere to the next. The case for a closer interlocking of competition law with agendas of consumer and data protection is also being made. Moreover, proposals drawing on public utility regulation are developed since internet platforms can, in many respects, be compared to traditional infrastructures. Understanding internet platforms as a new field of public service provision would, among other things, guarantee universal access, similar to traditional "analogue" infrastructures. As history has shown, it is possible to regulate powerful actors in the interests of society as a whole and subjecting them to democratic checks and balances. This would imply to take a broader perspective on economic dominance and approach the problems pragmatically


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