Warning To Digital Entrepreneurs: Regulated Industries Can Bite…

by Fevzi M. TOKSOY, PhD EU Law, Partner at ACTECON

The suspension of Booking.com’s services in Turkey has been seen as an attack on individuals’ online freedom and digital entrepreneurship as a whole. Such claims seem to be inaccurate because undertakings, irrespective of their legal form, location and mode of operation (digital/ ‘traditional’), are equally subject to, among others, (i) competition law; (ii) the respective regulatory framework, and (iii) rules on (un)fair competition. If an undertaking is found to be in violation of any of these, then naturally respective measures shall be taken by the state to deal with the consequences of the infringement. The case of Booking.com should be seen from this perspective. Access to the website has been restricted temporarily by the Turkish court on the grounds of unfair competition, and technically, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) has implemented the order of the court. At the same time, these decisions are part of an increasing pattern whereby conflicts between regulated business and digital networking platforms in many different industries are playing out in the legal and regulatory arenas. Booking.com is a typical example. Others include Uber, Airbnb, and PayPal. Let’s examine the Booking.com situation.

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