Dutch regulators join forces for supervision in the digital field

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Hogan Lovells

[co-author: Fenneke Buskermolen]

A group of Dutch regulators announced the establishment of the Digital Regulation Collaboration Platform (Samenwerkingsplatform Digitale Toezichthouders, or Platform). The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens), the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (Autoriteit Consument & Markt), the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (Autoriteit Financiële Markten), and the Dutch Media Authority (Commissariaat voor de Media) are going to collaborate more intensively via the Platform to coordinate the supervision of digital activities in the Netherlands.

The cooperation includes exchanging knowledge and experience on topics such as artificial intelligence, algorithms and data processing, online design, personalization, manipulation, and deception. The regulators will also jointly invest in knowledge, expertise, and competencies, and investigate whether they can support each other’s enforcement activities, including by jointly addressing digital market problems.

Digital service providers are subject to a complex and evolving legal landscape. Compliance with legislation and regulatory expectations may be challenging, because for a single service, or even one aspect of a service, several laws may apply and various regulators may be competent. For instance, regulators on privacy, consumer protection, competition, digital content, and financial services may be competent in parallel. A harmonised approach and enhanced collaboration between regulators could facilitate efforts to provide digital services in or from the Netherlands, while ensuring compliance with multiple laws and regulatory expectations. This may further improve the Dutch progressive business climate.

The European Union is rapidly developing new rules that are relevant for digital services. Under the existing and new rules, shared or overlapping competence of regulators in the digital field may become increasingly prevalent. Some examples include the General Data Protection Regulation (EU) 2016/679, the Directive 2002/58/EC on ePrivacy (to be replaced by the ePrivacy Regulation, proposed by the European Commission), the Directive 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices, the Directive (EU) 2019/2161 on Enforcement and Modernisation of Union Consumer Protection Rules, the Regulation (EU) 2018/302) on Geoblocking, the Regulation (EU) 2019/1150 on Platform-to-Business Relations, the Directive (EU) 2015/2366 on Payment Services 2, the Directive (EU) 2018/1808 on Audiovisual Media Services, the Directive 2000/31/EC on eCommerce, and the European Commission’s proposals on the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act.

Collaboration between regulators will support digital service providers’ efforts to capitalize on the synergies between legislation in their services and to find a harmonised approach regarding for example:

  • Transparency. Digital services providers must ensure transparency to users with regard to services they offer, by satisfying requirements from financial, privacy, and consumer legislation. Potential scenarios include requirements for providers of online web shops processing personal data of customers when selling products or providers offering online services to consolidate information on several payment accounts to provide users an overview of their financial situation and insight into their expenditure (a ‘housekeeping book’);
  • Commercial communications. The provision of commercial communications to users by digital service providers must take place in compliance with privacy rules and consumer legislation. Such legislation concerns, amongst others, rules on misleading advertisements, the content of advertisements that are displayed on a digital platform, or unsolicited communications; and
  • Processing of data and competition. Digital service providers that process data to analyse performance or behaviour that affects competition in the market, for example the sharing of personal data between companies or the use of data by companies, must conduct such activities in accordance with privacy and competition rules.

Collaboration between the relevant regulators via the Platform may contribute to clear expectations of regulators in the Netherlands, simplify compliance with the various regulatory regimes that apply to digital service providers, and thereby ultimately benefit the users of digital services. It may also set the standard for other countries in the European Union.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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