Press Release

Queen’s speech draft tech regulation announcement shows promise but must produce concrete action

On May 10th 2022, it was announced in the Queen’s speech that the UK government has plans to publish draft legislation, outlining ‘new competition rules for digital markets and the largest digital firms.’ The Movement for an Open Web welcomes this commitment to regulation in digital markets, but it must be noted that this announcement falls short of announcing actual legislation in the upcoming parliamentary session, as confirmed by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Therefore, the Digital Markets Unit will remain without additional powers to tackle competition and antitrust issues in the tech sphere. This is a step in the right direction – but is only a small step. The government and regulators are once again moving slowly to tackle an ongoing, fast-moving and serious threat to competition in digital markets.

Despite not outlining concrete action in the next parliamentary session, this announcement marks the beginning of a new phase for tech regulation and antitrust in the UK. The tech sphere is an uneven marketplace dominated by corporations with huge resource advantages over smaller competitors, and with large sway in the shape of their markets. It is therefore vital that the voices of smaller competitors and concerned parties are heard during the drafting of this new legislation, to ensure issues, such as the outsized influence of big tech gatekeepers, are properly addressed by the granting of new powers.

However, it has already been highlighted that regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the new Digital Markets Unit (DMU) already have powers that can be used to tackle ongoing competition harms in the interim period whilst new legislation is drawn up.

Even without a concrete announcement of fresh legislation, regulators have further tools in their arsenals to protect businesses and consumers. As such, we urge these regulators to use the powers already within their remit in the meantime, in order to address the anti-competitive actions of companies like Google and Apple and respond with due speed to the fast-moving nature of digital markets.


Notes for Editors

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