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Challengers say new law will end Big Tech’s ‘stranglehold’

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A number of tech challengers and startups have urged the government to pass the digital markets bill before the next election to help end Big Tech’s “stranglehold” on the sector.

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Bill, which is currently in passing through the House of Lords, would grant the UK’s competition watchdog greater control over Big Tech firms’s strategies. 

US tech giants such as Microsoft and Apple have been lobbying for amendments to the bill that would make it easier for them to appeal any of the watchdog’s decisions. They argue that the bill is actually bad for consumers, could choke innovation and deter investment.

But the chief executive of shopping search engine Kelkoo, Richard Stables, told City A.M. the bill is “incredibly important” for improving competition in the UK tech sector and will help end the “stranglehold” of Big Tech.

Stables said that Big Tech’s objections to the bill “are utter baloney, absolute rot and, what they’re really saying is, ‘this is difficult for our business and our bottom line and that means that we’re going to have to give up some of our revenue to help out British consumers’.”

Another supporter of the bill is Gener8, a UK tech startup that allows users to earn rewards from their own data. 

Head of public policy and research at Gener8, Tom Fish, told City A.M. that supporting the new regulations “doesn’t mean big business is bad and big tech is evil,” but the problem is that some companies are “acting as rule maker, referee and player in a game that covers vast parts of the global economy”.

In some circumstances this creates massive conflicts of interest for these companies, Fish said, adding that it is “undeniable some degree of oversight is needed on their internal decision making progresses.”

Jurgita Miseviciute, head of public policy and government affairs encrypted email service Proton, which is headquartered in Switzerland, told City A.M. she has “high hopes” the bill will be passed in time, but “the challenge will come in the enforcement”.

Formed in 2021, the Digital Markets Unit is the body that sits within the Competition and Markets Authority and will be responsible for enforcing and overseeing the new regulatory regime if the bill is passed.

The bill, which has cross-party support, is expected to receive Royal Assent in Spring, potentially as early as March, City A.M. understands.

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