New Watchdog set to Boost Online Competition

By April 7, 2021 Industry News

The Government has today launched a new regulator to ensure that tech giants cannot exploit their market dominance, crowd out competition, and stifle innovation online.

The regulator, Digital Markets Unit (DMU), will be based in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the DMU will ‘oversee plans to give consumers more choice and control over their data, promote online competition and crack down on unfair practices which can often leave businesses and consumers with less choice and more expensive goods and services.’

The announcement follows the Government’s November 2020 commitment to create a new unit that would enforce a new pro-competition regime to cover platforms with considerable strategic market status.

For its first programme of work, the government has asked the DMU to begin looking at how codes of conduct could work to oversee the relationship between digital platforms and small businesses which rely on them to advertise or to reach their customers.

The government plan to consult on the design of the new pro-competition regime this year. There are also plans to legislate to put the DMU on a statutory footing as soon as possible.

Several teams at the CMA are already taking action to address practices by digital firms which harm competition. The DMU will work closely with these teams. Ongoing projects include scrutinising mergers involving Facebook and eBay and taking enforcement action against Google and Apple.

According to the Government, the unit will coordinate with international partners so the UK can remain a global leader in this area. The UK is already examining its approach to digital competition with international partners as part of its G7 presidency.

Read the Government’s full announcement here.

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