UK pressures tech titans to face competition
The UK government is stepping up its efforts to get the tech giants to face competition in the name of consumer choice and innovation.
In the government’s latest statement today (13 March) – Google, Amazon, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Twitter – are under scrutiny.
An independent panel of experts says UK competition rules must be updated for the digital age. This includes such issues as tackling mergers, improving enforcement, increasing choice and innovation.
The review says: “Tech giants have become increasingly dominant and ministers must open the market up to increase consumer choice and give people greater control over their data.”
Of course, this data is not limited to our fintech world, as it will also be a reference to how some of the firms handle social media and search platforms.
The panel, led by Harvard professor Jason 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.
One recommendation is a new digital markets unit to be set up with expertise in technology, economics and behavioural science and the legal powers to back it up.
Another is for the regulators’ existing powers for tackling illegal anti-competitive practices to be strengthened – “making it quicker and simpler to prosecute breaches, such as bullying tactics by market leaders”.
The panel recommends changes to merger rules so the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) can better stop digital mergers that are likely to damage future competition.
In addition, it wants powers to force the largest companies to open up to smaller firms through providing access to key data sets, when doing so does not affect privacy.
Furman explains: “These recommendations will deliver an economic boost driven by UK tech start-ups and innovation.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will examine the proposals put forward by the panel before responding later this year.
The panel has made 20 specific recommendations for the government. These can be found in the full 150-page report here.