UK govt to create big tech firm regulator

The UK government will create a technology watchdog next year in order to police large tech firms such as Google and Facebook after Brexit.

Sources involved with the process speaking to the Financial Times said the regulator will be given power to implement a range of rules including an enforceable code of conduct.

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The watchdog will also provide greater data accessibility for consumers.

The decision comes after former US president Barak Obama’s chief economic advisers Jason Furman led a review into the “emergence of powerful new companies” in the tech sector and recommended a dedicated regulator.

“It’s quite rare that one makes a set of quite radical policy proposals and within 12 months the government is actually implementing them,” said economist Diane Coyle to the Financial Times.

Coyle who was part of the Furman review, a panel that recommended the new watchdog.

“There is an emerging international consensus around the scope of new regulation. A reckoning is coming for the biggest digital platforms,” she added.

Another member of the Furman review, Philip Marsden, told the paper that while he did not expect the new regulator being “a 1,000-person quango”, he believed the unit should be “funded well and have a lot of digital and competition expertise”.

Marsden added that the regulator should also have the potential to hand out fines that could exceed the cap that applies to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

On Wednesday a report published by the CMA laid out plans for a new regulatory regime for digital firms.

“We are concerned that [Google and Facebook] are both now so large and have such extensive access to data that potential rivals can no longer compete on equal terms,” the CMA said.

During its investigation the CMA found that Google accounted for more than 90 per cent of all revenues earned from search advertising in the UK in 2018, with about £6 billion.

Meanwhile Facebook accounted for almost half of all UK display advertising revenues, earning more than £2 billion in the same year.

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