UK tech watchdog will have authority to levy huge fines on tech firms

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A new tech watchdog in the United Kingdom will reportedly have the authority to levy multibillion-pound fines on large tech corporations such as Facebook and Google if they violate regulations aimed to protect businesses and consumers.

According to the government, the DMU (Digital Markets Unit) will protect small firms from unscrupulous activities and provide customers with more authority over how their data is used.

As per the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, ministers will bring legislation to support the DMU's powers in due time, despite concerns that only a draught bill will be addressed in the Queen's speech in the coming week.

The Competition and Markets Authority, the UK's competition watchdog, formed a new branch last year, which will implement new codes of conduct for the country's largest tech companies.

The new guidelines will make it easier for smartphone customers to pick which search engines they want to use, and would also allow them to opt-out of targeted, personalized ads.

Tech firms would be obliged to inform businesses of substantial changes that may affect them, like algorithm modifications that direct traffic away from certain websites.

The agency would also have the authority to settle disputes involving tech platforms as well as news organizations, ensuring that publications are adequately compensated for their content. According to the government, app makers would be able to offer their products on more equitable and open terms.

The DMU will have the authority to levy penalties of up to 10% of a firm's global turnover, almost £10 billion in the case of Meta, Facebook's owner, or 5% of global turnover for every day that a violation is committed.

The UK government is also launching the law for online safety, which will be included in the Queen's speech and will force tech companies to safeguard consumers from hazardous content, including child sexual abuse images.

The bill, which is expected to become law by the year-end, will be imposed by Ofcom, the communications authority, and will include the possibility of multibillion-pound fines for breaches.

Source credit: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/may/05/uk-watchdog-will-have-power-to-impose-huge-fines-on-big-tech-firms