Paper on competition in the digital economy published


The Competition Commission (Commission) has called for comments on its paper titled ‘Competition in the Digital Economy.

Over the last few years, competition and regulatory authorities across the world have been grappling with multi-faceted competition and regulatory issues due to the rise of large tech players, and advances in the digital economy. Many of these large tech firms have faced intense regulatory scrutiny.

The paper details competition and regulatory issues in the South African digital economy and sets out the Commission’s intended strategic actions in relation to competition law issues, and proposed strategic actions for other regulators to consider concerning their respective regulatory areas, namely telecommunication and broadcasting, data protection and financial services regulators.

Application of competition law in digital firms

Many of the Commission’s strategic actions seek to revolutionise the manner in which competition law is applied to digital firms in South Africa.

The Commission has also provided suggested actions for firms operating within the digital economy to mitigate the risk of competition law contraventions. The paper recognises that the digital economy in South Africa cuts across all markets in which goods and services utilise an internet base for production, distribution, trade and consumption by different agents.

Firms participating in the digital economy with the usage of social media platforms, search platforms, share-economy platforms and financial services, to name but a few, should begin to carefully consider the possible effects of the Commission’s suggested strategic actions on their businesses.

The table below sets out a brief summary of the key competition law issues identified, as well as some of the strategic actions recommended by the Commission.

Regulatory issues

The paper recognises that competition policy cannot be considered in isolation of the regulatory issues that underpin the digital economy.

The Commission is of the view that to derive lasting benefits from the digital economy, the regulatory environment should be conducive to inclusive growth.

In order to attain such inclusive growth, the Commission has identified key regulatory issues impeding growth, as well as strategic actions to be taken to remedy such impediments.

The table below sets out a brief summary of the key regulatory issues identified, as well as some of the strategic actions recommended by the Commission.

Although many of the Commission’s suggested strategic actions may take a while to implement, it is evident that the digital economy will be prioritised.

It is anticipated that the Commission may initiate a market inquiry into the sector, petition amendments to regulations and principle legislation and engage extensively with stakeholders.

Daryl Dingley | Partner | mail me
Leanne Mostert | Partner | mail me
Karl Blom | Senior Associate | mail me |
Cindy Leibowitz | Professional Support Lawyer | mail me
Elisha Bhugwandeen | Professional Support Lawyer | mail me
| Webber Wentzel


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