Treasury report calls for action on tech giant dominance

Mae Love
March 15, 2019

Matthew Fell, chief United Kingdom policy director of the CBI, said new rules must "keep pace" with the tech industry. "Some say this is inevitable or even desirable".

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, was right to recognise there is a better way than just continuing with the status quo.

The report, which was commissioned by chancellor Philip Hammond, states tech firms have become increasingly dominant in the market, limiting the control consumers have over their personal data.

The recommendations include setting up a new digital markets unit with expertise in technology, economics and behavioural science and the legal powers to back it up.

In response, Mr Hammond said: "The UK leads the world in embracing technology and the opportunities it delivers for people".

Hammond told MPs: 'We need to adapt our regulatory environment to ensure competition works for consumers in the digital market place, as it does in the real market place'.

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Unlocking digital competition, Report of the Digital Competition Expert Panel is here.

"Its central conclusions that digital markets only work well if they are supported with strong pro-competition policies, corroborates a number of the findings of my committee's report into disinformation and "fake news" published in February", he said. There may also be technical barriers to such a proposal due to the interoperability of data sets. techUK will continue to engage with Government on these issues, but is clear that any new requirements must be developed in partnership with the industry, and not brush over the practical challenges that may arise.

This said that market-leading tech giants should be forced to share their data under a package of proposals aimed at tackling their "bullying tactics". For example, an aggregator service could bring together a person's content and data from several social media platforms and make it easier to browse and message friends and family who use different apps. Lists of friends could be transferred to new social media sites and search histories could be transferred to a new search engine.

United Kingdom chancellor Philip Hammond has requested that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launch a review after an independent report he commissioned detailed how the UK's competition framework isn't fit for the economic challenges posed by digital markets, at home and internationally. The government is expected to formally respond to its recommendations in the summer.

The panel has made 20 specific recommendations for the government. These can be found in the full report.

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