Government outlines how regulator will tackle dominance of major tech firms

The government has today set out its plans to give statutory powers for the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) to allow it to enforce pro-competition rules and rebalance the relationship tech giants have with businesses and consumers so they are better protected from “unfair practices”.

The DMU is a new watchdog to make sure tech companies do not abuse their market power. The proposals aim to make it easier for people to switch between Apple iOS and Android phones, as well as between social media accounts.

Smartphone users could get more choice of which search engines they have access to and more control over how their data is used by companies. In addition, small and medium-size businesses across the UK should get a better deal from the big tech firms which they rely on to trade online. Tech firms could need to warn smaller firms about changes to their algorithms which drive traffic and revenues.

The government said more competition across digital markets will create incentives for internet companies to deliver better quality services. Lower fees for advertisers and businesses was outlined as one projected result of this.

Digital Minister Chris Philp said, “Technology has revolutionised the way thousands of UK firms do business – helping them reach new customers and putting a range of instant online services at people’s fingertips. But the dominance of a few tech giants is crowding out competition and stifling innovation.

“We want to level the playing field and we are arming this new tech regulator with a range of powers to generate lower prices, better choice and more control for consumers while backing content creators, innovators and publishers, including in our vital news industry.”

The DMU, launched in non-statutory form within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, will have the power to designate some of the world’s most powerful firms with ‘strategic market status’.

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Charlotte Hathway

Charlotte is the editor of Comms Business and writes about the latest technology innovations and business developments across the Channel. Got a story? Get in touch – charlotte.hathway@markallengroup.com.

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