U.K. Digital Markets Unit

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Digital Markets Unit
Founded 2021
Headquarters London, UK
Key People Will Hayter

The U.K.'s Digital Markets Unit was launched in April of 2021 as a new regulatory body aimed at policing allegations of anticompetitive behavior among the world’s largest technology companies. The unit will be tasked with making sure technology behemoths like Facebook Inc. and Google don’t exploit their market dominance to crowd out competition. The unit was unveiled in November 2020 but launched officially—with limited powers at first—on April 6, 2021.[1]

The unit is part of the Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, the country’s main antitrust regulator. It will oversee plans to give consumers more choice and control over their data, promote online competition and crack down on unfair practices.[2]

Its first task is to look at how codes of conduct could work to govern the relationship between digital platforms and third parties such as small businesses, which rely on them to advertise or use their services to reach customers.[3] It won’t be able to levy fines until Parliament approves legislation governing its oversight power, which is expected by 2022.

History

In November 2020 the U.K. government announced a new unit would be set up to enforce a new pro-competition regime to oversee platforms with considerable market power. The new unit launched on April 6, 2021 in ‘shadow’ non statutory form ahead of legislation granting its full powers.

Key People

  • Will Hayter, Head

References

  1. UK Launches new Competition Watchdog Targeting Big Tech. The Wall Street Journal.
  2. New watchdog to boost online competition launches. www.gov.uk.
  3. UK’s Digital Markets Unit starts work on pro-competition reforms. Techcrunch.