Press Release

‘Closing the Enforcement Gap’: New paper proposes path forward for UK tech regulation

In the wake of the UK Government confirming that it will only be producing draft legislation in the upcoming parliamentary session, ResPublica has published a new paper exploring proposals for improving the efficacy of tech antitrust regulation and its enforcement.

The paper, entitled “Closing the enforcement gap – proposals for reform and increasing the speed of enforcement action in Big Tech competition cases”, was released on 19th May. The paper can be found in full here.

It recognises that online and tech markets are uniquely fast-paced and affect all sectors of the economy as well as socially important activities like news and media.

Big tech companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook wield near-unprecedented influence over the broader digital marketplace, intensifying the stakes for all of us. We are all dependent on these platforms for market access.

This new paper explains the full context of the underlying problems with enforcement of tech regulation. The UK has a series of sector specific regulators, designed to regulate “last century” industries such as water, energy, telecoms and media, but the system lacks specialist enforcement capability.

This is unlike the systems in other common law countries like Australia and the USA, where Attorney’s General take public interest enforcement for breach of multiple laws.

Proposals include expanding the Attorney General’s remit and increasing the powers of the UK Digital Markets Unit – where legislation was announced but also recently delayed by the government.

In welcoming the Res Publica Report, James Rosewell, Director of Movement for an Open Web, said:

“When I, and 100,000s of other UK entrepreneurs started their digital businesses, we didn’t have to ask permission from Google or Apple. Now we have to pay their ‘taxes’ and follow their self-serving rules. It’s impossible to compete with their scale.

Competition authorities are stepping up to level the playing field and provide choice for consumers. They need to speed up. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion and relegating Great Britain to the digital slow lane.”

Tim Cowen, Chair of the Antitrust Practice at Preiskel & Co and a leading competition lawyer said:

“Change to tech platform incentives is required, to prevent them from making money out of non-compliance and to ensure observance of the laws that underpin society.”

“Without enforcement, media plurality and freedom of speech is threatened, businesses are excluded from the market and jobs growth and opportunity undermined. Meaningful enforcement action is overdue.”

Header image courtesy of Beatriz Perez Moya via Unsplash (Licensed for free use under the Unsplash License)