Photo by Denis Charlet / AFP via Getty Images

AFP via Getty Images

The UK is planning a new technical regulator to regulate the activities of platforms like Facebook and Google.

The new department for digital markets will be part of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and will enforce a new, not yet finalized code of conduct. Commissioning is planned for April next year.

“There is a growing consensus in the UK and abroad that the concentration of power among a small number of tech companies is stifling the growth of the sector, reducing innovation and having a negative impact on the people and businesses who depend on it,” said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden .

“It’s time to look into it and usher in a new age of technological growth.”

The new code of conduct will give consumers more choice and control over how their data is used, the government said. In the meantime, small businesses are better able to promote their products online, with the code ensuring that platforms don’t apply unfair terms or guidelines to business customers, including news publishers.

It will also regulate commercial agreements between publishers and platforms to “support the sustainability of the news publishing industry and rebalance the relationship between publishers and online platforms”.

Platforms might need to be more transparent about the services they offer and the use of consumer data, and allow consumers to choose whether to receive personalized advertising. They could also be prevented from imposing restrictions on their customers that make it difficult for them to use competing platforms.

In terms of enforcement, the government suggests that the new entity could be empowered to suspend, block, and reverse the decisions of technology giants, take certain actions to achieve compliance with the code, and impose financial penalties for violations impose.

The move follows the publication of a CMA report which found that lack of competition in digital markets is preventing new services from developing for consumers and bringing higher prices to companies using the platforms.

It concluded that both Google and Facebook in the UK are consistently generating profits well in excess of what is required to reward investors with a fair return – £ 1.7 billion more than compared to Google and £ 650m more for Facebook.

Meanwhile, the number of ads consumers are exposed to on digital platforms is increasing, and search and social media markets are characterized by terms that mean consumers need to share their data with platforms in order to use services.

“Digital platforms like Google and Facebook make an important contribution to our economy and play an important role in our daily lives – whether it helps us stay in touch with loved ones, share creative content or access the latest news.” says business secretary Alok Sharma.

“However, the dominance of a few large tech companies leads to less innovation, higher advertising prices and less choice and control for consumers. Our new, pro-competitive regime for digital markets will ensure that consumers have choice and smaller businesses have no choice.” t pushed out. “