The UK is creating a new agency to regulate Big Tech

The Digital Markets Unit will start working in April.

Leah Millis / Reuters

The UK plans to create a new agency to regulate large tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Starting in April 2021, the newly minted Digital Markets Unit (DMU), which will be a part of the country’s existing Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will enforce a code that will set new limits on tech’s biggest platforms, as well as attempt to create a more level playing field for smaller rivals.

While the code has yet to be introduced, it will be designed to give consumers more control over their data and break down restrictions that make it difficult to use competing platforms. It may also give people the option to decide whether they can be subjected to personalized advertising. To enforce the code, the DMU will have the power to block and reverse decisions made by large tech companies. If they don’t comply with its directives, it will also have the power to fine them.

“Online platforms bring huge benefits for businesses and society,” the government said. “But there is growing consensus in the UK and abroad that the concentration of power amongst a small number of tech companies is curtailing growth in the tech sector, reducing innovation and potentially having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them.”

The UK has been considering creating an additional regulatory body to keep big tech in check since partway through 2019. In a recent report, the CMA concluded that “existing laws are not suitable for effective regulation.” Like GDPR and other regional attempts to enforce limits on large digital platforms, the watchdog could have a global effect on how companies like Google and Facebook operate.