Facebook, Google and other tech giants will face more scrutiny in the UK from next year after the government announced that it is creating a new regulator to govern the behaviour of platforms which currently dominate the market.

Called the Digital Markets Unit, the new body will sit within the existing Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) from April and work with other regulators, such as Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office, to introduce and enforce a new code of conduct.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in a press release that the new code will help give people more control over their data, create a level playing field for smaller businesses as well as “rebalance” the relationship between publishers and online platforms.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden stressed that he was “unashamedly pro-tech” and recognised that digital platforms bring “huge benefits” to business, consumers and society.

But he said: “There is growing consensus in the UK and abroad that the concentration of power among a small number of tech companies is curtailing growth of the sector, reducing innovation and having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is also involved via the CMA and business secretary Alok Sharma said: “Digital platforms like Google and Facebook make a significant contribution to our economy and play a massive role in our day-to-day lives.

“But the dominance of just a few big tech companies is leading to less innovation, higher advertising prices and less choice and control for consumers.”

The powers awarded to the Digital Markets Unit are likely to mean that digital platforms will have to be more transparent about how they use consumers’ data, give consumers choice over whether to receive personalised advertising, and make it easier for consumers to use rival platforms.

In addition, the new body could be given powers to suspend, block and reverse decisions taken by tech giants, order them to comply with the code and fine those that fail to do so.

Sourced from DCMS; Financial Times