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UK poised to ditch plans to empower tech regulator

The government’s new legislative programme is not expected to include a bill to provide statutory underpinning to the digital markets unit



File photo
File photo

By Reuters

Published: Tue 3 May 2022, 8:23 AM

Britain is poised to shelve plans to provide statutory powers to a new technology regulator, in a blow to global efforts to curb the dominance of internet companies, including Google and Facebook, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The government’s new legislative programme is not expected to include a bill to provide statutory underpinning to the digital markets unit that is based within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the FT reported, citing people briefed on the situation.

The CMA and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters.

The UK announced in 2020 a plan to set up the digital markets unit in order to impose a new competition regime to prevent Google and Facebook from using their dominance to push out smaller firms and disadvantage consumers.

The Queen’s Speech due on May 10, which will outline the government’s legislative programme for the coming year, is not expected to include a bill that would provide the unit with statutory powers, the FT reported.

The CMA had called for tougher rules to check the dominance of tech giants in 2020, a year after it began a probe into the influence of the US platforms and how they collected and used personal data and consumers’ interest.

In 2019, Google and Facebook accounted for nearly 80 per cent of the UK’s digital advertising spending of about 14 billion pounds ($17.5 billion), helped by their large user and data bases and deep pockets, the CMA had said.

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