Coscelli: CMA Will Act If Government Fails To Curb Tech Giants Within A Year

Andrea Coscelli has said the Competition and Markets Authority will commence action to curb the harmful practices of the tech giants if the Government fails to act in the next year, the Financial Times reported.

The News Media Association welcomed the CMA’s market study into online platforms and digital advertising when it was published in July and called for the Government to act quickly or risk the UK being left behind.  

Overseas, governments and regulators are taking action to protect consumers from the damaging practices of the tech giants.

This week, the US Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit to “stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms.”

Alleging that Google has unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and search advertising, the US Department of Justice added: “These and other anticompetitive practices harm competition and consumers, reducing the ability of innovative new companies to develop, compete, and discipline Google’s behavior.”

Separately, the Financial Times said this week that CMA chief executive Mr Coscelli was preparing to mount investigations into the two internet giants if the Government did not act fast enough to curb their powers.

“In his clearest statement of intent yet, Mr Coscelli said the watchdog would give the Government a year to come up with a regulatory regime for big tech, including a new digital regulator, or he would take action,” the FT reported. 

“Plan A is to have a regulatory framework,” Mr Coscelli told the FT. “If [within a year] there is little action because of Covid-19 and Brexit then we would certainly do something ourselves directly — that is plan B.”

Responding to a Parliamentary written question from Chris Elmore MP, Labour, this week, DCMS Minister Caroline Dinenage said the Government was “carefully considering their recommendations” of the CMA’s report and a response “will be published in due course.” 

Mr Elmore’s question to the Culture Secretary asked, with reference to the CMA report, “whether the Government plans to set up a Digital Markets Unit to (a) enforce a code of conduct to ensure that online platforms with a position of market power do not engage in exploitative or exclusionary practices or those likely to reduce trust and transparency and (b) impose fines if necessary.”

In a speech last week, Mr Coscelli renewed the CMA’s call for a new digital markets regulatory regime to tackle Google and Facebook’s exploitation of consumers. 

He called for competition authorities across the world to cooperate “to tackle these problems together.”