UK creates a new unit in the CMA to regulate big tech

A photo of Big Ben and Parliament from Westminster bridge

The UK government has announced the creation of the Digital Markets Unit that will oversee “a pro-competition regime” for tech giants such as Facebook and Google. The creation of such a body comes with numerous benefits and ensures that platforms like Google and Facebook don’t become too powerful.

One of the duties of the new unit, which is being set up within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), is that consumers will be given more choice and control over the use of their data. The regulator will ensure that platforms, including those funded through digital ads, are transparent about the services they provide and how consumer data is being used. It will also ensure consumers have a choice over whether they receive personalised ads and that companies can’t place restrictions on their customers that makes it difficult to use rival platforms.

The regulator could be good for small businesses too as they’ll have fair access to things like digital advertising. Under the new code, firms would be prohibited from applying unfair terms, conditions or policies to certain business customers, including news publishers.

Regarding news publishers, it is no secret that things have got tough as physical newspaper sales have declined. One way in which they gain readers is through services like Google News. The new regulator will be able to govern commercial arrangements between publishers and platforms to ensure things remain fair for both parties. The government believes these powers will “enhance the sustainability of high-quality online journalism and news publishing in the UK.”

Commenting on the new regulator, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

“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.”

The government said that the Digital Markets Unit will begin work in April and will have the ability to suspend, block and reverse decisions of tech giants. It will also be able to issue orders to tech firms to take certain actions to achieve code compliance and impose fines on those that do not come into compliance.

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