Consumer Protection for Online Markets and Large Digital Platforms

39 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2021

See all articles by Amelia Fletcher

Amelia Fletcher

Centre for Competition Policy and Norwich Business School, UEA

Gregory S. Crawford

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Jacques Crémer

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)

David Dinielli

Yale - Tobin Center for Economic Policy

Paul Heidhues

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf

Michael Luca

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Tobias Salz

MIT

Monika Schnitzer

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Fiona M. Scott Morton

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Katja Seim

Yale School of Management

Michael Sinkinson

Yale SOM

Date Written: May 20, 2021

Abstract

Consumer protection law is vital for ensuring that market-based economies work in the economic interest of consumers as well as businesses, and thus to the benefit of civil society. This is the case for online markets just as it is for offline markets. However, despite broad consensus on these points, too little has been done to ensure that the various standards applicable in offline markets are sufficient or adequate to guarantee efficiency and fairness in online markets. This paper outlines eleven key features of online markets that might necessitate standards additional to or different from those that are applicable offline, and provides a menu of possible policies in relation to each. Many of these are general to all online markets, but some are specific to the largest digital platforms. Many if not most of our policy proposals could be enacted through minor changes to existing law or regulation or through decisional law interpreting existing legislation. Some have already been implemented in some jurisdictions. What is needed in all jurisdictions, however, is a regulator or regulators with sufficient expertise around technical issues such as A/B testing and algorithmic decision-making to understand, anticipate, and remedy the myriad ways that online firms can disadvantage consumers.

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Amelia and Crawford, Gregory S. and Crémer, Jacques and Dinielli, David and Heidhues, Paul and Luca, Michael and Salz, Tobias and Schnitzer, Monika and Scott Morton, Fiona M. and Seim, Katja and Sinkinson, Michael, Consumer Protection for Online Markets and Large Digital Platforms (May 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3923588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3923588

Amelia Fletcher (Contact Author)

Centre for Competition Policy and Norwich Business School, UEA ( email )

Norwich
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://people.uea.ac.uk/amelia_fletcher

Gregory S. Crawford

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Schönberggasse 1
Zürich, CH-8001
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.uzh.ch/faculty/groupcrawford.html

Jacques Crémer

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

David Dinielli

Yale - Tobin Center for Economic Policy ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Paul Heidhues

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf

Universitätsstrasse 1
Duesseldorf, DE NRW 40225
Germany

Michael Luca

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://drfd.hbs.edu/fit/public/facultyInfo.do?facInfo=ovr&facId=602417

Tobias Salz

MIT ( email )

50 Memorial Dr
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://economics.mit.edu/faculty/tsalz

Monika Schnitzer

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

Fiona M. Scott Morton

Yale School of Management ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Katja Seim

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Michael Sinkinson

Yale SOM ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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