In recent years, big tech companies have been dominating the market; leaving little room for competition. To address this issue, the UK government has introduced the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill. This bill seeks to increase consumer protection and promote competition between tech giants, whilst also aiming to end their current market dominance.
The Key Components of the Bill
This bill includes a range of measures which are aimed at protecting consumers and increasing competition in the digital sphere. Firstly, it bans people from receiving money or free goods for writing glowing reviews; something which has become increasingly common amongst big tech companies. It also requires platforms to take “reasonable steps” to verify product and service reviews are genuine, so that consumers can make informed decisions.
👏We are delighted to see the Digital Markets Bill published, and will be holding a series of public evidence sessions to scrutinise it.— Lords Communications and Digital Committee (@LordsCommsCom) April 25, 2023
📢We have been calling for digital competition issues to be addressed for a long time.
Ban on Fake Reviews and Subscription Traps
The bill also seeks to tackle so-called subscription traps. This is when people are tricked into signing up for something without realising they will be charged a recurring fee or have money taken from their account. The bill aims to prevent this by making it mandatory for companies to provide an extended “cooling off” period, in which consumers can cancel subscriptions after one payment is made.
Similarly, fake reviews will also be banned. The main purpose of this is to ensure that consumers are not misled when making decisions about products or services, as fake reviews can often give a false impression of a product’s quality. It will also restrict bribing people with products or money in exchange for favourable reviews.
The Digital Markets Unit
The introduction of the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) is a key part of the bill. The DMU will have a range of powers which can be used to open up specific markets, depending on the circumstances. For example, this could see Apple being told to allow iPhone and iPad users to download apps from different app stores. Not complying with these rules can result in fines of up to 10% of a company’s global turnover; without requiring a court order.
Enforcing The Bill
The UK government has already shown that the CMA is capable of taking on these tech giants, with their successful ruling against Meta’s takeover of Giphy. Nick Breen from Reed Smith Law said that “no-one has the luxury of taking this lightly.” Similarly, Neil Ross from techUK said he hoped the bill would include “robust checks and balances” as well as an efficient appeals process.
Will The Bill Be Effective?
Overall, the Digital Markets Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation which seeks to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing tech companies today. It could potentially open up competition, as well as provide more protection for consumers. However, it remains to be seen whether or not it will be effective in achieving its goals. If done right, this bill could give the UK a competitive edge in the digital world.
New rules ban subscription traps and fake reviews https://t.co/47lB1vUTcg— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 25, 2023
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill is a comprehensive approach to tackling the dominance of big tech companies in the UK. It seeks to increase consumer protection and open up competition in markets which are currently limited to just one or two big players.
Banning fake reviews is a key part of the bill, and will ensure that consumers are able to make informed decisions when buying products or services. With the introduction of the Digital Markets Unit, companies found to be in breach of this legislation can face severe penalties. Despite this, it remains to be seen how effective this bill will be in practice.