A new UK online competition regulator will turn to Facebook and Google to help curb the power of tech giants in Europe.
The Digital Markets Unit (DMU) was launched by the UK government on Wednesday, although its power to impose fines is not expected until next year. according to the Wall Street Journal. Parliament must pass laws regulating the oversight powers of the regulator before giving real power to the tech giants of the police force.
The DMU’s mandate includes promoting online competition and monitoring plans to give consumers more control over their data. The watchdog will “help prevent technology giants like Facebook and Google from being able to exploit their market dominance to crowd out competition and stifle innovation online,” the government said.
The DMU’s first job is to examine how codes of conduct might work in practice to regulate relationships between online platforms and groups such as small businesses that rely on them to advertise.
Government digital secretary Oliver Dowden has also asked the department to work with communications agency Ofcom to investigate how some code could regulate the relationship between platforms and content providers such as news publishers. This investigation will include ensuring that publishers are “as fair and reasonable as possible”.
The DMU will be housed in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is the UK’s antitrust authority. The CMA is already engaged in fighting tech giants Enforcement Actions Against Apple
“Today is another step towards creating a level playing field in the digital markets,” said Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA. “The DMU will be a world-leading center of excellence in this area. When empowered, I am confident that it will play a key role in driving innovation and ensuring better results for customers.”
The DMU launch comes amid a broader global push to regulate big tech. In the European Union Technology giants are facing a groundbreaking new regulation This includes the possibility of billions of dollars in fines and the liquidation of companies for failing to comply with new rules. In the US, both Google and Facebook are the subject of antitrust lawsuits.