The UK seems to be copying themes from the soon-to-be-announced EU Digital Services Act package (which is aimed at curbing the power of Big Tech, setting strict guardrails in which they can operate/expand, and recalibrating the intermediary liability and obligations framework).
Lots of the language justifying this announcement seems to be lifted almost word for word from the EU's press releases over the past 18 months or so.
It will be interesting to see:
- How these proposals will interact with the Online Harms initiative (which has gone suspiciously quiet)
- What powers the Regulator will have. Are we talking about an outcomes-based, sensible, pragmatic regulator? Or are we talking about an internet regulator with blocking powers that we have seen emerge in more authoritarian regimes around the world.
- How this announcement affects trade talks with the US post-Brexit. Safe harbour status quo is a high priority for the US in any deal, so whether the timeline is stuck to is likely doubtful.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said a “Digital Markets Unit” would be launched next April inside the UK’s existing competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority. Silicon Valley’s largest companies will have a “strategic market status” and have to comply with a code of conduct that will be introduced through legislation. The code will aim to create a level playing field for smaller businesses, give people more control over their data, and define a relationship between online platforms and publishers, such as newspapers. Oliver Dowden, UK culture secretary, said that while he was “unashamedly pro-tech”, there was growing evidence that the power of a handful of Big Tech companies was “curtailing growth [ . . . ] reducing innovation and having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them”.