The EU Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager said she is considering holding large tech companies to a higher standard of proof when it comes to competition cases, according to a report by the Financial Times.
Vestager said she was considering a proposal by a panel of independent experts that would require companies suspected of being anti-competitive to clearly demonstrate how their actions benefit their customers, rather than the commission having to prove the opposite.
“I think it’s an important discussion in figuring out what kind of regulation would be useful,” Vestager said.
The decision on whether to implement the new policy has not been made, but Vestager stressed that companies like Google should have to bear that burden of higher proof because they are basically “de facto regulators” in their industries.
“When you own a market and you’re the de facto market regulator, what are then the obligations that you get? And how do you show that you actually meet your obligations?” Vestager asked.
The change in regulation wouldn’t have broad, sweeping implications, but it would be applicable to companies that stopped customers from using a number of apps, or those that block data from third-party apps.
“Say, for instance, Uber started offering higher rates for those drivers who used its platform more often,” said one person familiar with the situation. “This would put competitors at a disadvantage because drivers would start favoring Uber to carry out their trips over competing apps. Under the proposed change, it would be Uber who would need to show its behavior is causing no harm to competition rather than the commission having to prove it.”
Vestager said the issue needed to be handled in a timely manner: “It’s quite important to discuss fast and listen quick, because there is a limit as to how much time we have available, because the legislative process in itself is quite long.”