TALK to Axelle Lemaire, a French secretary of state in charge of all things digital, and one topic quickly comes up: online platforms of the kind operated by tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Uber. “France is very open to them,” she insists, “but consumers have to be protected.”

Ms Lemaire’s words will soon be put into action. The French parliament is about to pass a law, sponsored by her, which will create the principle of loyauté des plateformes, best translated as platform fairness. Once it takes effect, operators of online marketplaces will, among other things, be required to signal when an offer is given prominence because the operator has struck a deal with the firm in question, as opposed to it being the best available.

In Brussels, too, the regulation of platforms is on the agenda. On May 25th the European Commission announced plans for how it intends to deal with such services. Its proposals cover everything from what tech firms should do to rid their digital properties of objectionable content, such as hate speech, to whether users can move data they have accumulated on one platform to…Continue reading