The United Kingdom has launched what it calls a “tough new regulator” to ensure companies like Google and Facebook can’t stifle competitors and innovation using their outsized place in the market, according to a Wednesday (April 7) announcement.
The Digital Markets Unit (DMU) will monitor plans to provide consumers with more choice and control over their data, encourage online competition and put a stop to unfair practices that leave consumers and businesses paying more for fewer choices, per the announcement. It will be based in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
“Online platforms bring huge benefits for businesses and society. They make work easier and quicker and help people stay in touch,” the announcement said. “But there is a consensus that the concentration of power among a small number of firms is curtailing growth and having negative impacts on consumers and businesses which rely on them.”
The British government announced the formation of the unit in November 2020, saying at the time that while technology provides many benefits, “there is growing consensus in the U.K. and abroad that the concentration of power amongst a small number of tech companies is curtailing growth in the tech sector, reducing innovation, and potentially having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them.”
The government has asked the DMU to examine how codes of conduct could govern the relationship between digital platforms and the groups that rely on them to reach their audience, and how such a code could govern the relationship between platforms and content providers such as news organizations to ensure they are “as fair and reasonable as possible.”
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden called the unit “a major milestone in creating the world’s most competitive online markets,” adding that it will “pave the way for the development of new digital services and lower prices, give consumers more choice and control over their data, and support our news industry, which is vital to freedom of expression and our democratic values.”
The announcement notes Dowden will meet with other digital secretaries in the next few weeks to coordinate on information sharing and policy approaches.
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