The UK government yesterday announced the launch of the Digital Markets Unit, which has been created as part of the Competition and Markets Authority, to investigate market abuse by giant technology companies and promote competition in digital services. Whilst the DMU has started work, it remains in "shadow" mode for now until legislation is passed, granting its full statutory powers.
Key areas of focus for the DMU include examining the relationships between platform and content providers. In particular, the Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has asked it to work with Ofcom to consider how a code of conduct would govern these relationships to ensure they are fair and reasonable. The DMU is also tasked with looking at the relationships between platforms and digital advertisers including ways of giving consumers more choice and control over their data and tackling unfair practices detrimental to businesses and consumers.
Will Hayter will take over the role as interim head of the DMU in early May, following his work at the Cabinet Office supporting the UK’s transition out of the EU. Under its published terms of reference, the DMU, will undertake preparatory and advisory work supporting the new statutory regime and carry out evidence gathering on digital markets, relying where necessary on the CMA's existing powers to investigate harm to competition in digital markets. It also plans to engage with stakeholders from industry, academia, governments and other UK and international regulators.
Online platforms bring huge benefits for businesses and society. They make work easier and quicker and help people stay in touch. But there is a consensus that the concentration of power among a small number of firms is curtailing growth and having negative impacts on consumers and businesses which rely on them.