The UK government has created the Digital Markets Unit to tackle the growing problem of US tech giants using their size to stifle competition.
Modeled on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the DMU will focus solely on digital giants, who dominate the internet space and thus, by definition, restrict competition. While it will look at general competition and data privacy, initially at least it seems to have been instructed to look at the dynamic in which traditional media has seen its revenues hoovered up by Google and Facebook and is thus in steep decline.
“Today is a major milestone in the path to creating the world’s most competitive online markets, with consumers, entrepreneurs and content publishers at their heart,” said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden “The Digital Markets Unit has launched and I’ve asked it to begin by looking at the relationships between platforms and content providers, and platforms and digital advertisers.
“This will pave the way for the development of new digital services and lower prices, give consumers more choice and control over their data, and support our news industry, which is vital to freedom of expression and our democratic values.”
“The UK has built an enviable reputation as a global tech hub and we want that to continue – but I’m clear that the system needs to be fair for our smaller businesses, new entrepreneurs and the wider British public,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng “Our new, unashamedly pro-competition regime will help to curb the dominance of tech giants, unleash a wave of innovation throughout the market and ensure smaller firms aren’t pushed out.”
“People shopping on the internet and sharing information online should be able to enjoy the choice, secure data and fair prices that come with a dynamic and competitive industry,” said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Exec of the CMA. “Today is another step towards creating a level playing field in digital markets. The DMU will be a world-leading hub of expertise in this area and when given the powers it needs, I am confident it will play a key role in helping innovation thrive and securing better outcomes for customers.”
Regarding the traditional media, it seems the DMU will be using the Cairncross Review as an initial point of guidance. It will presumably also draw heavily on the precedent set when Australia attempted to tackle the same issue earlier this year. Other pressing matters for its to do list include Amazon – both retail and public cloud – and social media censorship. Let’s hope this new agency has some teeth.
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