The government of the United Kingdom has published a draft bill that would give its independent competition regulator extended powers to fine Big Tech companies for competition abuses.
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers bill is specifically targeted at companies with annual revenues of at least $31 billion globally, or £1 billion in the U.K., and will also give the regulator greater powers to investigate and block acquisitions.
The likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Meta will be subject to the new powers of the regulator, each falling well within the revenue limit of the draft bill.
The bill gives more power to the Digital Markets Unit, a new body with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which was created in 2020 to promote competition and innovation. Under the new proposed rules, the thresholds for mergers and fines will change meaning the CMA can “conduct faster and more flexible competition investigations, which identify and stop unlawful anticompetitive conduct more quicky.”
The law was introduced to the U.K. parliament on Tuesday but has not yet been voted on. It is widely expected to be approved by lawmakers and receive cross-party support. The bill expected to be made law next year.
The CMA was most recently in the headlines when it held up Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the video game firm Activision Blizzard. The regulator is conducting a thorough competition investigation into the deal. It previously ordered Facebook to divest Giphy, the Gif platform.
The same bill also gives authorities the power to issue multi billion-pound fines to any tech companies found to be breaching consumer protection rules. The bill aims to tackle issues such as fake online reviews and subscriptions that are difficult or near-impossible to cancel.