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Competition and digitisation: can Internet giants be tamed?

CEO Martin Schulze looks back in the event held by the manager lounge in Frankfurt with speaker Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt from Bonn.

“Competition and digitisation: can Internet giants be tamed?

This was the title of the event held by the manager lounge in Frankfurt on 28.08.2019, with speaker Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt from Bonn.

What does regulation for the security of competition look like in times of digitization and platform economy? What new dangers have arisen? And what possibilities does a national authority have? These and other questions were the focus of the presentation by Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt, to the members of the manager lounge Frankfurt.

A large part of his remarks revolved around the dominance of the so-called GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) corporations. Mundt was very worried. On the one hand, he was concerned about his theme “competition” and the dangers for social life and the democratic exchange of opinions. Therefore, he sees a great need for action for the national and international regulatory authorities. But it is the political sector in particular that is called upon to set the right framework conditions.

The examples in which his authority was able to successfully enforce fair conditions of competition gave cause for hope. Amazon, for example, had to adapt its general terms and conditions several times under pressure from the authorities. The most prominent example of this is the “best price guarantee”. This was prohibited in Germany by the Federal Cartel Office and is now no longer used globally by Amazon.

Competition as a decisive driver of innovation and customer benefit

Mr. Mundt positioned himself impressively clearly this evening as the guardian of the competition. He sees it as the key driving force behind innovation and customer benefit.

An example from my own industry has remained in my memory. This is the Internet Explorer. At a time when this was the only browser available for Windows, there was not a single update of this software. For 20 years, this software has burdened us and our customers with problems and inefficiencies. These have their origin in the lack of competition in the early days of the Internet industry.

Dominance of GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple)

The dominance of the GAFA is also being increasingly discussed critically in the USA itself. There, too, it is being investigated by the regulatory authorities. The next few years will therefore be exciting.

Many thanks to the organizer and president of the Frankfurt manager lounge, Jürgen Siegemund, for his moderation and the extremely successful event.

Image purchased and edited by SC Lötters