The UK’s digital markets unit – Big Tech’s watchdog – remains toothless for now, but statutory powers are due this year • The Register
Tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google face fines of up to 10% of revenue if they are found to seriously violate new regulations being considered by the government British.
The proposals – which will be adopted by the Digital Markets Unit (DMU), a fledgling division last November that sits within the UK’s Competition Markets Authority – would force tech mega-bodies to follow new rules of “acceptable behavior with competitors and customers ”.
This is the last step in the bureaucratic overhaul process of defining the role of the DMU and engaging in a consultative process before finally giving it the legal authority to do something.
It is not known exactly when this could happen. The government has said it wants to give the DMU its new powers “as soon as parliamentary time permits”, but until then, the DMU has no regulatory powers.
The exact nature of these new powers – when they finally arrive – also remains unclear. However, generally speaking, the DMU seeks to target digital companies with “deep-rooted market power”, subjecting them to a binding code to enhance competition while keeping consumer interests at the forefront.
This could include preventing tech companies from forcing bettors to use associated proprietary services, or ensuring that third-party companies that depend on them are not prevented from doing business with competitors.
The DMU could also be empowered to take on tech giants who change their algorithms or terms and conditions, while those who ignore bogus ratings and reviews online to whip up goods and services could also be in the crosshairs. .
And when DMU finally gets the green light, at least it won’t have to start from scratch.
In the past six weeks or so, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has already opened a formal investigation into Amazon and Google for false reviews; launched a vast market study on the hold of Google and Apple on everything mobile; said it would keep a watchful eye on Google’s plans to remove third-party cookies from its Chrome web browser; and launched an investigation into Facebook amid allegations that the social network unfairly used data obtained through its advertising and single sign-on for the benefit of its own services.
In a statement, Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA, said: “Today’s consultation is an important step towards creating a world-class pro-competition regime to spur technological innovation and protect consumers in the digital age. The Digital Markets Unit will continue to support the government as it establishes this new regime, before receiving its new statutory powers. “
But he will have to get angry because the work accumulates. Last week, the UK’s largest union complained to the CMA about alleged price hikes at Amazon.
The CMA has spent the last two months procrastinating on the merger between AMD and Xilinx before finally giving it the green light.
And officials have until the end of the day to make sure their pencils are all sharp and papers organized while they await “legally binding proposals” from Cellnex and CK Hutchison regarding the proposed Thousand Sale. cell towers in the United Kingdom. ®