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Rolf H. Weber

At the beginning of the worldwide triumph of the Internet and Internet-based services, many competition law authorities adopted a hands-off approach with regard to the Internet industry. Meanwhile, however, changes can be observed in this respect from a regulatory point of view. This chapter takes this opportunity to critically assess the recent developments in the Internet sector. After giving a general overview of the specific features of online markets and the different kinds of Internet businesses from the competition law perspective, the chapter undertakes a thorough examination and analysis of the recent regulatory approaches and the tendencies in politics and economics in relation to the Internet. On the basis of these theoretical findings, a practical approach is chosen by means of case studies on online sellers, search engines and social networks in order to illustrate possible risks caused by structural changes in the relevant Internet markets. These findings finally allow the designing of possible guidelines and new perspectives for competition regulation in the future.