United Kingdom government to introduce unit dedicated to big tech regulation

Ruben Fields
November 29, 2020

The UK plans to create a new agency to regulate large tech companies such as Google and Facebook.

The CMA wants to crack down on internet giants swallowing up smaller firms and is set to issue detailed plans in December.

Only through a new pro-competition regulatory regime can we tackle the market power of tech giants like Facebook and Google and ensure that businesses and consumers are protected. The Taskforce is due to report by end-2020. The new competition unit will have the power to take action against any anti-competitive behavior from these big tech companies and corporations.

Britain's competition watchdog will gain a dedicated Digital Markets Unit, empowered to write and enforce a new code of practice on technology companies. This concentration has led to reduced innovation and potential negative impacts on people and businesses, it said.

"I'm unashamedly pro-tech and the services of digital platforms are positively transforming the economy - bringing huge benefits to businesses, consumers and society", Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said.

A new statutory code will aim to make the tech giants "more transparent about the services they provide and how they are using consumers' data", it said. It may also give people the option to decide whether they can be subjected to personalized advertising. However, Tech Radar reported that it is already obvious that Facebook and Google will certainly receive a lot more regulatory attention from the new tech regulator.

Those investigations found that Google has significant market power in the general search market and in search advertising.

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The government says the Digital Markets Unit could be empowered to suspend, block, and roll back decisions made by tech companies.

The code could be used to ensure platforms are not applying unfair terms, conditions or policies to certain business customers, including news publishers.

Google and Facebook have previously said they are committed to working with the British government and regulator on digital advertising.

The European Union is already planning on introducing tougher competition laws soon, but with the United Kingdom leaving the EU, it was felt it also needed to tighten the rules governing tech firms such as Google and Facebook.

American lawmakers similarly demanded further limits on Silicon Valley's biggest names in a recent report, while US federal and state agencies have either filed, or are expected to file in the coming weeks, lawsuits against Google and Facebook over accusations that they abused their online dominance for their own gain.

Announced on Friday morning, the goal of the new agency is to "oversee a pro-competition regime for platforms including those funded by digital advertising". The Government accepted the Furman Review's six strategic recommendations, including the establishment of a new Digital Markets Unit (DMU), earlier this year.

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