Facebook, Google to face tougher competition rules in UK

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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UK will bring in a new competition regime next year to stop Google and Facebook from leveraging their power to drive out smaller companies and disadvantage customers.

The code will be enforced by a dedicated unit within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which this year said it needed new laws to keep the tech giants in check. CMA added that Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising, accounting for around 80 percent of the $18 billion paid in 2019.

The two US-based companies have said they are committed to collaborating on digital ads with the British government and regulator, including allowing consumers more influence over their information and advertisements they are served.

While “unashamedly pro-tech,” Britain Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said there was an increasing consensus that the concentration of power in a small number of firms was decreasing productivity, reducing creativity and having negative effects on the individuals and companies who rely on them. “It’s time to address that and unleash a new age of tech growth,” added Mr. Dowden.

The recently created Digital Markets Unit, which will commence operations in April, may be permitted to suspend, block and revoke choices taken by technology firms and enforce financial fines for non-compliance.

Companies will have to be more open about how they use customer information and restrictions will be banned that make it impossible to use competing platforms, the government said, adding that the regulations will also help the news industry, rebalancing the publishers-platform relationship.

Recently, the CMA said it was determining whether a formal investigation was warranted by a complaint about Google technology. A group of technology and publishing firms, Marketers for an Open Web (MOW) said that Google was altering its Chrome browser and Chromium developer tools to give it greater influence over publishers and advertisers.

MOW is a coalition campaigning against the efforts of Google to dominate the open web. This group involves the companies who are concerned that Google is disrupting a competitive, autonomous and open web.

Google stated that the advertising practices are important to respond to evolving standards about the collection and use of data.