Nadine Dorries will continue the competition crackdown on big tech Business

Nadine Dorries is to press ahead with the creation of a new digital competition watchdog that will have the power to impose multi-billion pound fines on US tech giants who abuse their dominance on the internet.

The Culture Secretary is setting up a Digital Markets Unit which will be given statutory powers to help him investigate alleged anti-competitive behavior by Google and Facebook.

The unit, which will sit within the Competition and Markets Authority, will be able to impose fines of up to 10% of global turnover and sanction bosses for the most serious infringements in a bid to stimulate competition and protect consumers.

He intends to change the rules so users can more easily switch between Apple and Android phones without losing contacts and data, while giving users more choice online.

The unit also plans to force tech giants to reveal the secrets of algorithms to small businesses and ensure news publishers are properly paid for their online content.

It could force companies to suspend or reverse actions they believe violated its rules.

In a response to the consultation published on Friday, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will reveal that it intends to launch a ‘code of conduct’ for larger companies on the fair treatment of consumers and businesses.

However, ministers will promise a lighthearted approach to acquisition rules, fearing a crackdown could hit investment.

Digital Minister Chris Philp said “the dominance of a few tech giants crowds out competition and stifles innovation”.

He added: “We want to level the playing field and we are arming this new technological regulator with a range of powers to generate lower prices, better choice and more control for consumers while supporting content creators, innovators and publishers, including in our vital news. industry.”

It is not yet known when the legislation will be introduced. It is understood the plans could be referenced in the Queen’s Speech despite fears they will be left out entirely.

Plans to force big tech companies to reveal details of their algorithms and notify of upcoming changes are expected to prove popular with businesses.

Algorithms are considered by tech companies to be highly valuable trade secrets. In a case brought to the High Court in 2020 by a rival, Google described its search ranking algorithms as its “crown jewels” while fighting an attempt to have them inspected by an outside consultant.

Facebook has faced multiple controversies over its feed ranking algorithm, including allegations last year from Frances Haugen, a whistleblower, that European political parties were taking more extreme stances to maintain their prominence. algorithm changes.

An update that boosted the prominence of Facebook posts with more user comments has prompted politicians to create more controversial online content, former social network worker Ms Haugen said, citing documents interns she said she saw in 2018.

Addressing the practices of tech companies, DCMS said: “Any change in their algorithms could mean that traffic is diverted from certain sites and companies, which could negatively affect their revenue.”

Facebook and Google alone claimed 35% of the $641 billion global digital advertising budget in 2020, according to figures compiled by GroupM, a subsidiary of advertising firm WPP.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-05 21:30:00

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