By Chu Xingjuan
Source: InfoQ (ID: infoqchina)
Interest comes before monopoly.
At noon on November 10, the General Administration of Market Supervision issued the anti-monopoly guidelines on the field of platform economy (Draft for Soliciting Opinions), and the shares of domestic platform Internet listed companies fell in the afternoon. Alibaba, Tencent, Jingdong, meituan and other Internet giants evaporated their market value of 100 billion yuan, and the war report of the double 11 failed to recover the decline.
After more than 20 years of development, China's Internet industry giants have taken shape. Now it is time for urgent rectification?
Enjoy a monopoly and worry
According to the statistical report on the development of China's Internet, by June 2020, the number of Internet users in China has reached 940 million, and the Internet penetration rate has reached 67.0%. Among them, the number of users of online delivery, online education, online car hailing and online medical services reached 409 million, 381 million, 340 million and 276 million respectively, accounting for 43.5%, 40.5%, 36.2% and 29.4% of the total Internet users, respectively.
Search Baidu; go out rely on Didi; shopping to find Ali, JingDong; social Tencent, Weibo; take-out Meituan, hungry...... With the rapid development of the Internet industry, the giants have gathered a large number of users and have strong market power in the process, which has also led to some business behaviors that have a great impact on social related enterprises and consumers, such as
Merchants use customer paralysis and trust to analyze collected user data and quietly raise sales prices. The seemingly unremarkable data leak is ultimately the victim of the consumer himself. The platform uses its position to force merchants to choose from one of the two, businesses lose orders, and consumers are forced to do so
These behaviors are no different from the monopoly behavior in the traditional economy, but it is difficult to be new in the way direct object of management is no longer behavior, but data. Data management is a highly complex problem, and this field is faced with a pioneer's established monopoly. How to manage
Chang Liang, executive director of Beijing Jiashan law firm, told InfoQ that before the introduction of the antitrust guidelines, it was difficult to analyze such problems with traditional anti-monopoly ideas, resulting in many cases involving similar problems difficult to be solved in time.
In reality, very few people
For monopoly, more sensitive is the competitors of the same industry. The giants enjoy the vested interests of monopoly and fear of becoming themselves
In November 2010, Tencent and Tencent computer companies explicitly prohibited their users from using Qihoo's 360 software, or else they would stop QQ software services; they refused to provide relevant software services to users who installed 360 software, and forced users to delete 360 software. In 2012, Tencent sued 360 for its dominant position in the instant messaging market. However, the court finally ruled that Tencent's behavior did not constitute the abuse of market dominance prohibited by the "anti monopoly law", and rejected all claims of 360.
In addition to abusing market dominance, monopoly behavior also includes signing monopoly agreements, concentration of operators with or likely to have the effect of excluding and restricting competition, including signing relevant joint agreements between platforms, giant mergers and acquisitions, etc.
In 2015, Ctrip acquired elong, and qunar.com immediately submitted a document to the Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce of China, believing that Ctrip's acquisition of elong was suspected of violating the anti monopoly law and relevant regulations. Qunar.com believes that after the merger of Ctrip and elong, the total share in the online hotel reservation market exceeds 50%, and Ctrip has obtained the actual control right of elong company after the equity transaction, constituting the concentration of business operators, touching the declaration threshold set in the provisions of the State Council on the declaration standard for concentration of business operators. However, the Ministry of commerce did not make the judgment of monopoly or not.
In the platform economy, monopoly agreement and operator concentration identification
Generally speaking, if enterprises occupy a dominant position in the relevant market but do not abuse it, but seek welfare for consumers, it is difficult to form a monopoly. But the giants are increasingly taking advantage of their dominance in business battles, with Meituan, Taobao and JingDong
In the big situation of the digital economy, analysts Fu Xiaoyan believes that this is a good time for the state to tackle the situation.
It does not limit the emergence of domain giants
Because of the difficulty of defining monopoly behavior, the period of many antitrust litigation cases will be very long. The promulgation of "anti monopoly guidelines" solves this difficult problem.
The Anti-Monopoly Guide
Meanwhile, the Anti-Monopoly Guide specifically mentions
Tencent was the first company to respond after the anti-monopoly guide was released: it is cooperating with regulatory authorities to ensure compliance with the document requirements, or will focus more on the trading platform. For the content of digital entertainment such as games and videos, Tencent may not be the focus.
Ten days later, Zhang Yong, chairman of the board of directors and CEO of Alibaba group, said that he would actively study and respond to national policies and regulations, and build a more healthy platform economy with higher requirements.
Xiaoyan said that the general rectification of the business will be done by the regulatory agencies. But whether it will have a more profound impact on the industry depends on the degree of attention both sides attach to this matter. If both sides attach great importance to it, the rectification cycle will be very long and the impact will be great, which will determine the future management direction to a certain extent.
In addition, Fu Xiaoyan mentioned that there are also some technical descriptions in the anti-monopoly law of the platform, so this is also a wind vane for the state to manage algorithms in the future.
At the same time, it can be made clear that the essence of the "antitrust guide" is to regulate and regulate the development of platform economy, and does not necessarily limit the emergence and development of giants in the field.
Fu Xiaoyan points out that the goal of the Anti-monopoly Guide is not to stop
CITIC Securities also pointed out in the research report that in the long run, the high concentration of Internet platforms is the result of the natural development of consumer Internet, which conforms to the basic logic of industrial development. It is expected that more regulation will promote platform companies to improve business rules and product services, without changing their long-term market position and investment value.
Under the trend of international antitrust, tycoons should be careful
At present, the international attitude towards Internet giants tends to be strong regulation.
According to incomplete statistics of Nandu antitrust research group, from 2017 to August 10, 2020, GAFA has encountered 84 anti-monopoly investigations and disputes in 17 countries and regions around the world. Among them, Google was involved in the most times, with 27 cases; followed by Amazon and apple, with 22 cases; and finally, Facebook, with a total of 13 investigations. However, so many monopoly investigations have not hindered the development of GAFA.
The U.S. House of Representatives convenes a hearing on July 29, U.S. Eastern time
In this anti-monopoly wave, Google is the first to bear the brunt.
On October 20, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, which is the most serious antitrust accusation filed by the US Department of justice against technology companies since the 21st century. On November 12, a group representing 165 companies and industry organizations issued a joint letter calling on EU antitrust law enforcement officials to take a tougher stance against Google because Google unfairly favors its own services in its online search service. Subsequently, India also launched an antitrust investigation on Google, saying it abused the app store to promote payment business.
Facebook may also face its biggest regulatory challenge in nearly 17 years. According to sources, US federal and state investigators are preparing to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that the merger of Facebook's rivals instagram and WhatsApp has damaged consumers' rights and interests.
In the EU competition law system, there is no special independent code on the anti-monopoly regulation of Internet platform, which is mainly regulated by the rule system established in the Treaty on the operation of the European Union, while the legal regulation of anti-monopoly on Internet platform in the United States is mainly based on antitrust law. China's anti-monopoly law is still in the early stage of development, but the foreign monopoly of Internet platforms does not seem to have a good balance.
Characteristics of antitrust laws against Internet platform enterprises in China, the United States and the European Union
The tide of domestic anti-monopoly is consistent with the international trend. Chang Liang pointed out that the "antitrust guide" means that China's anti-monopoly laws and regulations system for Internet giants will be gradually established, so as to make compliance norms for China's Internet platform to go to the global market in the future.
In addition to clearly defining the confusion points in the Internet anti-monopoly issues and clarifying the monopoly behavior and punishment, the anti-monopoly guide also increases the compliance risk of the Internet platform anti-monopoly, and has an impact on the subsequent judicial decisions.
In addition, Chang Liang also said that the "antitrust guide" is not only aimed at domestic Internet platforms, but may also involve foreign giants in the future. If the Internet platform wants to participate in the international competition better, it must have an international vision, strengthen technological innovation and self-management.