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Technology

UK Creates New Regulator, To Impose Tougher Rules On Google, Facebook

Oluwaseye Ogunsanya November 27, 2020 21


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Britain, on Friday announced that it will set up a watchdog to regulate tech giants such as Facebook and Google and improve their transparency on using people’s data and personalised advertising.

This is according to a statement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, it said that the new regulator, the Digital Markets Unit, will “govern the behaviour of platforms that currently dominate the market, such as Google and Facebook”.

The aim is “to ensure consumers and small businesses aren’t disadvantaged”, it said.

The creation of the unit comes months after the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in July said that existing laws were not effective and a new regulatory regime was needed to control internet giants that earn from digital advertising.

The CMA has backed the new rules while it has not taken direct action against Facebook and Google.

“Our new, pro-competition regime for digital markets will ensure consumers have choice and mean smaller firms aren’t pushed out,” said Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

While admitting that the online platforms bring “huge benefits for businesses and society” Britain said that the “concentration of power amongst a small number of tech companies” was curbing growth and innovation in the industry, which could have “negative impacts” for the public.

A new statutory code will aim to make the tech giants “more transparent about the services they provide and how they are using consumers’ data”, it said.

Consumers will be able to choose whether to see personalised advertising, the government said.

The new regulator will be launched in April and could have powers to “suspend, block and reverse decisions of tech giants”, order them to take actions and impose fines.

The new code could also mean online platforms have to offer fairer terms to news publications.

Facebook and Google have been called on to give a larger share of their advertising revenue to media organisations whose content they use

Last year, around 80 percent of the £14 billion ($18.7 billion, 15.7 billion euros) spent on digital advertising went to Google and Facebook. This is according to the CMA.

Newspapers are dependent on the online giants for traffic, with around 40 percent of visits to their sites coming via Facebook and Google.

In its reaction, Google said it wants to “work constructively” with the new regulator.

Facebook is preparing to launch its Facebook News service in the UK, which works with news media and includes original reporting.

It said it remains “committed to working with our UK industry partners to find ways to support journalism and help the long-term sustainability of news organisations”.

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