Tough new laws planned for tech giants Facebook and Google

Technology giants will be subjected to tough laws to stop them exploiting consumers and rivals, ministers said yesterday.

A new watchdog, the Digital Markets Unit, will be able to force firms such as Google and Facebook to comply with codes of conduct or forfeit up to 10 per cent of global turnover.

Under a raft of measures:

  • The DMU will have the power to ensure online giants pay a fair price to news publishers for content;
  • The watchdog will also reform digital markets, cutting fees for both advertisers and businesses to deliver lower prices for consumers;
  • It will be made easier to switch between Apple and Android phones and different social media accounts;
  • Tech firms may have to warn smaller companies about changes to algorithms that could damage traffic and revenues;
  • The DMU will be able to stop firms limiting consumers to pre-installed software on smartphones.
The government is planning new rules for regulating tech giants to protect the public and their rival companies.  Among the companies that will be subject to the new rules is Google

The government is planning new rules for regulating tech giants to protect the public and their rival companies. Among the companies that will be subject to the new rules is Google

Facebook, who are now known as Meta, are part of the Government's long-awaited plans to tackle the dominance of technology giants and boost competition online

Facebook, who are now known as Meta, are part of the Government’s long-awaited plans to tackle the dominance of technology giants and boost competition online

For years, news organizations have raised concerns over the dominance of US tech giants in digital advertising

For years, news organizations have raised concerns over the dominance of US tech giants in digital advertising

The proposals are part of the Government’s long-awaited plans to tackle the dominance of technology giants and boost competition online.

Ministers said the DMU would give consumers ‘more choice and control’ on the internet while also protecting small businesses from ‘predatory practices’.

The announcement paves the way for a Bill to be included in the Queen’s Speech next week that will give the watchdog the statutory underpinning it needs.

Campaigners have urged Boris Johnson to include this in the upcoming legislative program to ensure Britain does not lose its chance to become a world leader in online regulation.

For years, news organizations have raised concerns over the dominance of US tech giants in digital advertising.

Many also believe the firms are manipulating their algorithms to disproportionately direct search inquiries toward favored businesses.

In a bid to improve the bargaining power of the Press, the DMU will set out how firms such as Google and Facebook must trade with news publishers. The watchdog will mediate in case of disputes.

In a bid to improve the bargaining power of the Press, the DMU will set out how firms such as Google and Facebook must trade with news publishers.  The watchdog will mediate in case of disputes

In a bid to improve the bargaining power of the Press, the DMU will set out how firms such as Google and Facebook must trade with news publishers. The watchdog will mediate in case of disputes

The Government said this would ‘increase the bargaining power of national and regional newspapers, and force social media platforms to be more transparent on how they position publishers on their platforms, and what algorithms are being used’.

Consumer minister Paul Scully said: ‘We’re ensuring our modern, digitized economy gives consumers better products, greater choice and lower prices by having companies compete for customers on a level playing field. The customer is always right but sometimes they don’t get a choice.

‘We’ll stop companies using their power to harm customers, whether they’re limiting shoppers’ choices to certain software on their devices or making it hard for people to decide how their data is used.’

The DMU was launched within the Competition and Markets Authority a year ago but still needs legislation for it to be able to use its powers. Consumer watchdog Which? said it was essential the DMU was ‘properly empowered’ for the sake of consumers and businesses.

We’ll stop them abusing power – and ripping you off

By CHRIS PHILP, TECHNOLOGY MINISTER

Technology minister Chris Philps, pictured, said powerful tech companies are able to charge whatever they like for online services with little oversight

Technology minister Chris Philps, pictured, said powerful tech companies are able to charge whatever they like for online services with little oversight

The internet and the digital devices that connect to it have made our lives infinitely easier – from shopping and banking online to connecting with friends and family.

But if the internet was a high street it would be dominated by just a handful of massive shops – the tech giants.

These firms have huge influence over what we do and don’t see on our devices, and showcase their own apps and services over rivals.

This makes it difficult for smaller firms to compete – including those in the UK’s thriving tech scene.

On top of this, these powerful tech companies are able to charge whatever they like for online services with little oversight.

The Government has set up a regulator – the Digital Markets Unit – as a new watchdog to make sure the tech companies don’t abuse their power.

Today we are revealing its strict – and statutory – rules to rein in dominant firms so smaller businesses can compete.

The watchdog will stop big tech pushing aside rival software on their app stores in favor of their own products – leveling the playing field for smaller developers and putting more options in the digital shop front.

Companies falling short of the rules could face fines of up to 10 per cent of their global annual turnover. If they make a wrong move they could be forced to U-turn on their plans.

News outlets have taken a battering from the tight grip Facebook and Google have online with advertising – despite the fact it is their quality stories which often keep people engaged on their platforms. The Digital Markets Unit will get powers to intervene to make sure news organizations are paid fairly by social media giants for their journalism.

It will have the power to step in and resolve disagreements over prices.

Consumers will benefit from lower prices for everyday goods bought online and see greater choice.

They’ll have more power over the services they use and what companies do with their data, such as being able to opt out of targeted personalized adverts.

Switching between iOS and Android devices can be a turn-off for people because it’s a pain to move data across different systems. The Digital Markets Unit could force technology giants to make this much easier so that people don’t feel ‘locked in’ to their existing devices.

The Digital Markets Unit will help to right some of the wrongs brought about by the rampant expansion of unregulated internet companies.

The result will be a fairer and more competitive environment that will stop small businesses being stifled and British shoppers ripped off.

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