UK Regulator Opens Study On Big Tech Search Dominance


Scrutiny of big tech — specifically firms such as Facebook and Google — seems likely to heat up in the United Kingdom.

News came this week that the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, per disclosure Wednesday, is debuting a new study that would look at the dominance larger tech firms have over sectors such as advertising.  Public comment on the study, which will focus on competition and data collection, must be submitted by July 30th, according to a release.

In a statement, CMA Chairman Andrew Tyrie said that “much about these fast-changing markets is a closed book to most people.  The work we do will open them up to greater scrutiny, and should give Parliament and the public a better grip on what global online platforms are doing.”

A final report is slated to be released by July 2, 2020.  In its announcement of the study, the CMA said that among other endeavors the study will examine concerns about “how online platforms are using people’s personal data, including whether making this data available to advertisers in return for payment is producing good outcomes for consumers.  The CMA will examine whether people have the skills, knowledge and control over how information about them is collected and used, so they can decide whether or not to share it in the first place.”

The study would be the latest salvo in big tech scrutiny.

The CMA also said in its statement that “we do not propose to focus in our study on platforms that are not funded by digital advertising. Neither do we propose to focus on whether targeted advertising is used to manipulate or deceive consumers, nor on other forms of online harm which are the subject of the government’s Internet Safety Strategy. A recent White Paper on online harms outlines the steps that government will take to ensure the U.K. is the safest place in the world to be online.”

The CMA actions follow a report from earlier this year that stated that Facebook has acted akin to “a digital gangster” that had not been forthcoming with answers about content or Russian meddling in the elections.