UK government sets out plans to tackle big tech dominance

A new regulatory body will be set up to help regulate large technology firms and hand control back to consumers.

UK Parliament and Big Ben with data points

The UK government has set out a new set of ‘fair play’ rules aimed at tackling the dominance of large technology companies and boosting competition within the digital services market.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has outlined its plans for a newly formed Digital Markets Unit (DMU) regulatory body, with a remit to protect small businesses from dominant competitive practices and provide consumers more control over their personal data.

The DMU will aim to stop technology companies from unfairly promoting their own services and provide individuals with more decision-making power over how their data is used and handled by tech firms, such as opting out of targeted personalised adverts.

The new rules will also make it easier for people to switch between different mobile operating systems and ensure businesses are alerted to algorithm changes that could potentially impact their traffic or revenues.

News publishers will also be given the ability to better monetise their online content, while app developers “would be able to sell their apps on fairer and more transparent terms.”

According to the DCMS, organisations that fail to comply will face fines up to 10% of global turnover, and senior tech bosses will face “civil penalties” if their employer fails to adhere to the rules. Additional penalties of 5% of daily global turnover will also be handed out for each day an offence continues.

The latest announcement follows a consultation launched by the government in July last year, looking into proposals for a new pro-competition regime for digital markets. “The dominance of a few tech giants is crowding out competition and stifling innovation,” digital minister Chris Philp said.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approved the proposals, with chief executive Andrea Coscelli saying he was pleased that the government had taken forward a number of its recommendations, allowing the DMU to oversee an “effective and robust digital markets regime” in the UK.

Technology firms are facing similar regulatory challenges from the European Union’s Digital Market’s Act, a piece of legislation intended to rein in the power of large tech corporations by changing how they integrate digital services and handle customer data.

There is currently no clear timeline for when these changes will come into force, as the government has said the necessary legislation will be introduced in Parliament “in due course.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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