New UK tech regulator looks to clamp down on Google, Facebook

Houses of Parliament
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A new government agency dedicated to limiting the power of big tech firms in the UK has been launched. The Digital Markets Unit will operate under the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and have the power to enforce new codes of practice for technology firms that are deemed to possess “strategic market status”.

At the moment, it is not exactly clear which tech firms will be subject to the new unit’s authority but it’s a pretty good guess that the likes of Google and Facebook are about to get a lot more regulatory attention. 

The decision to launch a new regulator comes after the CMA carried out an investigation into the digital advertising industry earlier this year, which was then broadened out to look at Google and Facebook’s market dominance more generally.

“Digital platforms like Google and Facebook make a significant contribution to our economy and play a massive role in our day-to-day lives – whether it’s helping us stay in touch with our loved ones, share creative content or access the latest news,” the UK’s business secretary Alok Sharma explained

“But the dominance of just a few big tech companies is leading to less innovation, higher advertising prices and less choice and control for consumers. Our new, pro-competition regime for digital markets will ensure consumers have choice, and mean smaller firms aren’t pushed out.”

New codes of conduct 

It is thought that the Digital Markets Unit may attempt to mediate between tech platforms and new publishers to ensure the latter are able to monetize their content, as well as giving users more choice on whether they receive personalized ads or not. Measures to improve competition in the technology sector will also be pursued.

The UK is not the only country looking to curtail the power of large US tech firms. The EU has long taken a strong stance against monopolistic practices and data privacy laws, often resulting in major fines for the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple. Whether the new UK authority will look to assert its authority by imposing financial penalties remains to be seen.

Via The Guardian

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.