UK Digital Markets Unit will regulate big tech like Apple, Facebook, Google

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The UK is spinning up a new regulatory body, intended to "enforce a new code to govern the behavior of platforms that currently dominate the market."




Announced on Friday morning, the purpose of the new agency is to "oversee a pro-competition regime for platforms including those funded by digital advertising." The government believes that in doing so, the code of conduct that will be enforced will enhance consumer choice, give users more control over how their data is used, and boost small businesses online.

Furthermore, the agency is said to be able to "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry." The government says that this will happen because of a "rebalance" of the relationship between online platforms and original publishers.

"The dominance of just a few big tech companies is leading to less innovation, higher advertising prices and less choice and control for consumers," said Business Secretary Alok Sharma. "Our new, pro-competition regime for digital markets will ensure consumers have choice, and mean smaller firms aren't pushed out."

The new Digital Markets Unit will fire up in April 2021. It will be formed by the work of the Digital Markets Taskforce that was set up in March 2020 by the country's consumer protection agency, in response to allegations of big tech antitrust actions in the country.

Those investigations found that Google has significant market power in the general search market and in search advertising. Facebook was found to have significant market power in the social media market and in display advertising.

Queries directed on Friday morning to the UK government by AppleInsider clarified that the agency will be responsible for regulating all big tech companies in the UK, including Apple, Microsoft, plus the aforementioned Facebook and Google. It isn't clear where the "line" for big tech ends. A question about what criteria were being used to determine if a company falls under the purview of the Digital Markets Unit was not answered.

The Digital Markets Taskforce also will deal with the findings that there is a lack of competitive pressure on big tech, which results in higher prices for goods and services. Specifically for online advertising, the group will deal with the "reduced quality" of display ads, including the increase in volume, the lack of consumer control of personal data, and "broader social harm" induced by alleged monopolistic behavior.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    A really good start. Finally a development that has been overstraining the legislative branch for the last 10 to 20 years is being adressed appropriately with an agency specifically staffed for this.

    I applaud this development and expect other parts of the world to soon follow.
    edited November 2020 williamlondonlkruppelijahg
  • Reply 2 of 10
    I'm worried some of their words are codewords. For example, "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry" may mean that any big tech reselling British news (eg, Apple News+) will have to hand over all personal data on Apple News+ subscribers so that the local British news businesses would be "sustainable." In that case, I hope Apple stops selling Apple News+ in Britain (or at least stops selling British newspapers in Apple News) because if Apple hands over my personal data to British companies, I will instantly cancel my Apple News subscription within 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don't really care if Apple hands over the personal data of British users to British newspapers. But does Apple really know the nationality of its subscribers? I don't think so. So they would have to stop selling News+ in Britain.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,771member
    Alok Sharma involved? 

    This has got failure written all over it. The clue is in the vague definition of what it’s actually for. 

    Once again the government tries to signal that it’s doing something when it’s doing nothing at all. 

    Specifically for online advertising, the group will deal with the "reduced quality" of display ads,

    What does this even mean?

    williamlondonapplguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,885member
    I'm worried some of their words are codewords. For example, "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry" may mean that any big tech reselling British news (eg, Apple News+) will have to hand over all personal data on Apple News+ subscribers so that the local British news businesses would be "sustainable." In that case, I hope Apple stops selling Apple News+ in Britain (or at least stops selling British newspapers in Apple News) because if Apple hands over my personal data to British companies, I will instantly cancel my Apple News subscription within 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don't really care if Apple hands over the personal data of British users to British newspapers. But does Apple really know the nationality of its subscribers? I don't think so. So they would have to stop selling News+ in Britain.
    How about we wait for news on what actually will happen rather than degenerating to speculation and meaningless posturing based on those reckons?
    williamlondonlkruppmuthuk_vanalingamgatorguyCloudTalkinelijahg
  • Reply 5 of 10
    crowley said:
    I'm worried some of their words are codewords. For example, "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry" may mean that any big tech reselling British news (eg, Apple News+) will have to hand over all personal data on Apple News+ subscribers so that the local British news businesses would be "sustainable." In that case, I hope Apple stops selling Apple News+ in Britain (or at least stops selling British newspapers in Apple News) because if Apple hands over my personal data to British companies, I will instantly cancel my Apple News subscription within 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don't really care if Apple hands over the personal data of British users to British newspapers. But does Apple really know the nationality of its subscribers? I don't think so. So they would have to stop selling News+ in Britain.
    How about we wait for news on what actually will happen rather than degenerating to speculation and meaningless posturing based on those reckons?
    Have you never speculated on these forums? That's impressive.
    williamlondoncat52uraharachristophbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,771member
    crowley said:
    I'm worried some of their words are codewords. For example, "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry" may mean that any big tech reselling British news (eg, Apple News+) will have to hand over all personal data on Apple News+ subscribers so that the local British news businesses would be "sustainable." In that case, I hope Apple stops selling Apple News+ in Britain (or at least stops selling British newspapers in Apple News) because if Apple hands over my personal data to British companies, I will instantly cancel my Apple News subscription within 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don't really care if Apple hands over the personal data of British users to British newspapers. But does Apple really know the nationality of its subscribers? I don't think so. So they would have to stop selling News+ in Britain.
    How about we wait for news on what actually will happen rather than degenerating to speculation and meaningless posturing based on those reckons?
    Have you never speculated on these forums? That's impressive.
    I thought that’s what forums were for. 
    williamlondonlkruppchristophbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,131member
    crowley said:
    I'm worried some of their words are codewords. For example, "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry" may mean that any big tech reselling British news (eg, Apple News+) will have to hand over all personal data on Apple News+ subscribers so that the local British news businesses would be "sustainable." In that case, I hope Apple stops selling Apple News+ in Britain (or at least stops selling British newspapers in Apple News) because if Apple hands over my personal data to British companies, I will instantly cancel my Apple News subscription within 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don't really care if Apple hands over the personal data of British users to British newspapers. But does Apple really know the nationality of its subscribers? I don't think so. So they would have to stop selling News+ in Britain.
    How about we wait for news on what actually will happen rather than degenerating to speculation and meaningless posturing based on those reckons?
    You mean like how the AI forums react to rumors and reports about Apple, Macs, iPhones, iPads...”speculation and meaningless posturing”? 
    cat52williamlondonchristophbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,885member
    lkrupp said:
    crowley said:
    I'm worried some of their words are codewords. For example, "support the sustainability of the news publishing industry" may mean that any big tech reselling British news (eg, Apple News+) will have to hand over all personal data on Apple News+ subscribers so that the local British news businesses would be "sustainable." In that case, I hope Apple stops selling Apple News+ in Britain (or at least stops selling British newspapers in Apple News) because if Apple hands over my personal data to British companies, I will instantly cancel my Apple News subscription within 60 seconds. On the other hand, I don't really care if Apple hands over the personal data of British users to British newspapers. But does Apple really know the nationality of its subscribers? I don't think so. So they would have to stop selling News+ in Britain.
    How about we wait for news on what actually will happen rather than degenerating to speculation and meaningless posturing based on those reckons?
    You mean like how the AI forums react to rumors and reports about Apple, Macs, iPhones, iPads...”speculation and meaningless posturing”? 
    Yeah, it's dumb when people do that as well.  But it's even more dumb when the tone shifts to political conspiracy mongering and repeated calls for Apple to completely withdraw from major markets.
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamavon b7
  • Reply 9 of 10
    Rayz2016 said:
    Alok Sharma involved? 

    This has got failure written all over it. The clue is in the vague definition of what it’s actually for. 

    Once again the government tries to signal that it’s doing something when it’s doing nothing at all. 

    Specifically for online advertising, the group will deal with the "reduced quality" of display ads,

    What does this even mean?

    Agreed.
    Very vague. => Nothing useful will come out as a result.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    In principal a good thing, in reality, maybe a mixed bag, could go either way as to wether or not it is an improvement, still, all for local rules over continent wide rules
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