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Summary (IA Generated)
The UK is moving ahead with a plan to regulate big tech, responding to competition concerns over a ‘winner takes all’ dynamic in digital markets.
It will set up a new Digital Market Unit (DMU) to oversee a “pro-competition” regime for Internet platforms — including those funded by online advertising, such as Facebook and Google — the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced today.
“The new code will set clear expectations for platforms that have considerable market power — known as strategic market status — over what represents acceptable behaviour when interacting with competitors and users,” DCMS writes in a press release.
A Digital Markets Taskforce, which the government set up earlier this year to advise on the design of the competition measures, will inform the Unit’s work, including how the regime will work in practice, per DCMS.
That’s key given big tech’s strategic application of free-at-the-point-of-use services as a tool for dominating markets by gaining massive marketshare which in turn gives it the power to set self-serving usage conditions for consumers and anti-competitive rules for third party businesses — enabling it to entrench its hold on the digital attention sphere.
Commenting on the announcement of the DMU in a statement, digital secretary Oliver Dowden 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.
Business secretary Alok Sharma added: “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 UK’s move to regulate big tech means there’s now broad consensus among European lawmakers that platform power must be curtailed — and that competition rules need properly resourcing to get the job done.
The Commission has said the forthcoming ex ante regulation — which it’s calling the Digital Markets Act — will identify platforms which hold significant market power, so-called Internet gatekeepers, and apply a specific set of fairness and transparency rules and obligations on them with the aim of rebalancing competition.
This summer the BBC reported that the government has not committed to introduce a draft bill next year either — suggesting its planned wider Internet regulation regime may not be in place until 2023 or 2024.