DCMS: new regime will give more control over Google and Facebook

Minister pledges Digital Markets Unit will deliver and enforce code to make global giants give public greater say in how their data is collected and used
John Whittingdale

By Sam Trendall

17 Dec 2020

The new regulatory taskforce designed to promote competition and enforce standards on digital platforms will have the benefit of giving users more control over how their data is collected and used, a minister has claimed.

Last month the Competition and Markets Authority launched a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) that, according to the government, has been founded to “introduce and enforce a new code to govern the behaviour of platforms that currently dominate the market, such as Google and Facebook”.

According to Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport minister John Whittingdale, the creation of the unit came on the back of a “CMA market study into online platforms and digital advertising highlighted that weak competition leads to consumers having less choice and control over their data”.

The rigours of the new regulatory environment will thus mean that citizens will enjoy a greater say over how tech firms gather and utilise their personal information.

“The CMA proposed a new pro-competition regime for digital markets, including measures to improve consumer control over their data, such as opt-ins for personalised advertising and measures to improve how consumer choices around data collection are presented,” Whittingdale – who is media and data minister – said.

The DMU “will work closely with key regulators including the ICO and Ofcom” the minister added.

The government will next year conduct a consultation on how the new regime should be designed and implemented. After which “we will legislate to put the DMU on a statutory footing as soon as parliamentary time allows”, Whittingdale said.

“Government is committed to a regime which will boost innovation and growth across the economy, unlocking the full benefits of digital markets for consumers,” he added.

The minister was answering a written parliamentary question from Labour shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where a version of this story first appeared.

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