UK laws must be updated for the digital age to encourage competition at a time when tech giants including Google and Facebook are becoming dominant, an independent review panel concluded.
In a statement, HM Treasury said Harvard professor and economics expert Jason Furman, who headed the panel, believes setting up a new competition unit and strengthening outdated laws would enable more companies to enter the market on a more equal footing, usher in a new wave of innovation, and foster the creation of new social media and online search platforms.
Furman’s panel recommended a digital markets unit should have expertise in technology, economics and behavioural science, along with sufficient legal clout.
“My panel is outlining a balanced proposal to give people more control over their data, give small businesses more of a chance to enter and thrive, and create more predictability for the large digital companies,” Furman explained. The approach will “deliver an economic boost driven by UK tech start-ups”, he added.
The Treasury stated the recommendations included the creation of a code of conduct so “the largest digital companies know the competitive rules of the game”; giving regulators more powers to tackle illegal anti-competitive practices; and amending merger rules so the Competition and Markets Authority can prevent tie-ups “likely to damage future competition, innovation and consumer choice”.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said the government will closely scrutinise the panel’s proposals “before responding later this year, setting out how the government will implement the changes needed to ensure our digital markets are competitive and consumers get the level of choice they deserve”.
Earlier this week, US Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to split up technology giants as part of a bid to spur innovation and competition.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back