UK Antitrust Watchdog Sets out Proposals to Tackle Tech Giants' Hold of Ad Market -- Update

Date : 12/18/2019 @ 4:03PM
Source : Dow Jones News
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UK Antitrust Watchdog Sets out Proposals to Tackle Tech Giants' Hold of Ad Market -- Update

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--The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority on Wednesday set out preliminary proposals to regulate online platforms and digital advertising

--Google and Facebook said they would cooperate with regulators

--The CMA will present its findings on the GBP13 billion online-advertising market to the U.K. government at the end of its study

 

By Adria Calatayud

 

The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority on Wednesday outlined a series of preliminary proposals to regulate online platforms and digital advertising, as regulators worldwide tighten their grip on the tech industry.

The antitrust regulator, which began examining the sector in July, said preliminary findings indicate there is a strong argument for developing a new regulatory regime to govern the behavior of online platforms and give people greater control over their data.

Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL)'s Google and Facebook Inc. (FB) vowed to collaborate with the U.K. government and the competition regulator on online advertising, a market the CMA said is now worth around 13 billion pounds ($17.15 billion).

The CMA said Google accounted for more than 90% of around GBP6 billion generated in revenue from search advertising in the U.K. last year. Meanwhile, Facebook received almost half of all display-advertising revenue in the U.K., which reached more than GBP2 billion, it said.

The regulator invited comments on a series of proposals to open up the search market, require Facebook to connect more seamlessly with rival social networking sites, and address conflicts of interests and lack of transparency in digital advertising. Its interim report will be open for consultation until Feb. 12, the CMA said.

"At the end of the study, we'll present our findings to the new government as they decide whether and how to regulate what is an increasingly central sector in all our lives," CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said.

The CMA said a lack of real competition for Google and Facebook could mean people miss out on the next great new idea from a potential rival and result in a lack of proper choice for consumers and higher prices for advertisers. Furthermore, the market position of Google and Facebook may potentially be undermining newspapers and publishers' ability to produce valuable content, it said.

The regulator said it is also concerned about a lack of transparency in the way that business on digital platforms works.

"We've built easy-to-use controls that enable people to manage their data in Google's services--such as the ability to turn off personalized advertising and to automatically delete their search history. We'll continue to work constructively with the CMA and the government," said Ronan Harris, vice president of Google U.K. and Ireland.

Facebook said it agrees with the CMA that people should have control over their data and transparency around how it is used.

"In fact, for every ad we show, we give people the option to find out why they are seeing that ad and an option to turn off ads from that advertiser entirely," a Facebook spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, a government-appointed panel of experts led by Jason Furman, a Harvard University economist who previously chaired President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, recommended establishing a new regulator that would work with big tech companies to develop a code of conduct.

 

Write to Adria Calatayud at adria.calatayud@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 18, 2019 10:48 ET (15:48 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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