The Times view on regulating Facebook and Google: Tech Unchecked

Marco Green
March 15, 2019

"This comes at a critical moment ahead of the beginnings of regulation from Government to rein in the powers of the tech companies".

EU, German and Austrian authorities are looking separately into Amazon's marketplace platform over complaints of unfair practices. Last year, the former was hit with a record $5bn antitrust fine from European Union regulators who ordered it to stop using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals.

An independent panel of experts led by Professor Furman - who was chief economic adviser to President Barack Obama's White House - and including Professors Diane Coyle, Amelia Fletcher, Derek McAuley and Philip Marsden has investigated the sector.

Major technology companies have become too dominant and do not face enough market competition in the United Kingdom, according to an independent review by Harvard Professor Jason Furman.

The review, published today, calls on the government to increase competition in the sector by setting up a new competition unit and strengthening outdated laws. "I think the United Kingdom can do better".

European Union authorities also have faced down big tech companies. European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has slapped whopping fines on Google and ordered Apple to pay back billions in back taxes. The government is expected to formally respond to its recommendations in the summer.

Updating existing competition rules to reflect the evolving digital landscape, including giving regulators more power to tackle "bullying tactics by market leaders'". That would let people move or share their personal information if they switch to a new digital service.

"My panel is outlining a balanced proposal to give people more control over their data, give small businesses more of a chance to enter and thrive, and create more predictability for the large digital companies". The report said clarifying unfair conduct would allow disputes to be resolved more easily. The UK must remaining a welcoming place for digital business from around the world, and ensure that the UK competition and wider regulatory framework is not in conflict with the other leading digital economies with which we must compete.

The findings say the CMA should launch a formal market study into the digital advertising market which it says is dominated by two players and suffers from a lack of transparency.

"The Chancellor's call for the CMA to look into the digital ad market is the first step in a much bigger journey for the industry", said Paul Wright, General Manager EMEA at Sizmek, a buy-side advertising platform.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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