BREAKING: UK To Regulate Google, Facebook

Britain announced Friday it will set up a watchdog to regulate tech giants such as Facebook and Google, help protect smaller competitors and give consumers more control over personal data.

Britain’s announcement comes as US tech giants are facing increasing scrutiny around the world over their power and as other countries step up their regulatory powers.

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“Our new, pro-competition regime for digital markets will ensure consumers have choice, and mean smaller firms aren’t pushed out,” said Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

The measures are due to come into force after Britain goes it alone at the end of a post-Brexit transition period from the European Union.

Next month the EU is to present its own major legislation called the Digital Services Act, which will set out rules for strict oversight over big tech.

Britain’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the new regulator, the Digital Markets Unit, will “govern the behaviour of platforms that currently dominate the market, such as Google and Facebook”.

The aim is “to ensure consumers and small businesses aren’t disadvantaged”, it said.

Britain’s Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden acknowledged the online platforms bring “huge benefits for businesses and society” but said the “concentration of power amongst a small number of tech companies” was curbing growth and innovation, which could have “negative impacts” for the public.

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A new statutory code will aim to make the tech giants “more transparent about the services they provide and how they are using consumers’ data”, the government said.

Consumers will also be able to choose whether to see personalised advertising.

Google reacted by saying it wants to “work constructively” with the new regulator.

Facebook said it remains “committed to working with our UK industry partners to find ways to support journalism and help the long-term sustainability of news organisations”.

It is preparing to launch its Facebook News service in the UK, which works with news media and includes original reporting.

Britain’s move comes after the US Justice Department last month filed a landmark lawsuit against Google, accusing it of maintaining an “illegal monopoly” in online search and advertising, a claim that Google has described as “deeply flawed.”

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