A new public body in the UK launched today to help regulate the most powerful companies in the digital sector to ensure that online competition thrives and digital service consumers have more choice and control over their data.
The Digital Markets Unit (DMU), announced last November after a series of market reviews and studies examining concerns about the concentration of digital market power, does not yet have legal powers of its own, but the government has announced that it will they will consult the design of the new “pro-competitive regime” this year and the legislation to make the DMU on a legal basis as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Concerns about the market power of adtech giants Facebook and Google are important drivers for regulatory developments.
As a first task, the unit will examine how codes of conduct can work to regulate the relationship between digital platforms and third parties such as small businesses that rely on them to advertise or use their services to reach customers – to move into the future digital To be able to incorporate legislation.
The role of capable online gatekeepers as intermediaries is also being targeted by legislators in the European Union, who at the end of last year proposed legislation that also aims to create a legal framework that ensures fair dealings between platform giants and the smaller companies may under which business can be done their terms.
The UK government announced today that in examining the role of platforms in a number of digital markets, the DMU will be taking a sector-neutral approach in order to encourage competition.
The unit has been asked to work with communications watchdog Ofcom, which the government named last year as their choice for regulating social media platforms under planned legislation to be introduced this year (aka the Online Safety Act as it is now called).
While this forthcoming legislation is designed to address a wide variety of online harms that can affect consumers – from bullying and hate speech to child sexual exploitation to other language-related issues (which create a lot of controversy and specific concerns about its associated effects raising privacy and privacy) security) – DMU’s focus is on business impact and consumer controls, which can also affect competition in digital markets.
As part of its first work program, the government said the secretary of state for digital media had asked DMU to work with Ofcom to look closely at how a code would govern relationships between platforms and content providers such as news publishers – “also to ensure they are like that fair and sensible as possible, ”says the press release.
This suggests that the DMU will take a look at the most recent laws passed in Australia. Hence, it is mandatory for platforms to negotiate with news publishers to pay for the reuse of their content.
Earlier this year, the head of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), of which DMU will be a member, told the BBC that Australia’s approach to halting compulsory arbitration when trade negotiations between tech giants and publishers fail makes “sense” .
The DMU will also work closely with the CMA’s enforcement division, which is currently conducting a number of open investigations against technology giants, including examining complaints against Apple and Google. and an in-depth investigation into Facebook’s Giphy acquisition.
Other British supervisory authorities with which the DMU says it will work closely are the Data Protection Officer (ICO) and the Financial Conduct Authority.
The presentation will also coordinate with international partners, since digital competition is a topic that is of course global in nature. In addition, it will already be discussing its approach through bilateral engagement and within the framework of its G7 presidency.
“The digital secretary will host a meeting of digital and technology ministers in April to build consensus on how to coordinate better information sharing and the convergence of regulatory and policy approaches,” he added.
The DMU is headed by Will Hayter, who held a provisional post in early May after a period in the cabinet office working on the Brexit transition policy. Prior to that, he worked for CMU and Ofcom for several years, including in regulatory policy.