UK to make Big Tech give rivals access to data under new plans

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s competition regulator plans to make big tech companies give their rivals greater access to data and limit them from promoting their own products under new powers it is due to receive from the government, it said on Thursday.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has bolstered its oversight of Big Tech firms like Facebook owner Meta, Google parent Alphabet, Amazon and Apple.

Its willingness to take them on was made clear last year when it intervened in Microsoft’s purchase of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, and again more recently when it said it was reviewing the U.S. giant’s deal with ChatGPT maker OpenAI.

“The new digital markets competition regime will help ensure that tech challenger firms can bring forward genuinely disruptive and exciting new innovations that will create great new products for consumers,” CMA head Sarah Cardell will say at a Silicon Valley conference, according to a CMA statement.

“Today’s overview document not only provides clarity for UK parliamentarians, but also for digital firms and wider stakeholders about the approach the CMA intends to take,” she planned to say.

The CMA set up a dedicated Digital Markets Unit more than two years ago, armed with the expertise to examine rapidly evolving markets like social media. Big tech companies with designated status will have to comply with the new rules.

The unit will receive new powers under legislation currently going through parliament.

The CMA, which has gained additional status following Brexit, said it expected to open three to four investigations within the first year of the new regime coming into force.

It said it could prevent the companies preferencing their own products and services, and make them provide rivals with greater access to data and functionality.

The CMA could also make them allow rivals’ products and services to work with their own or ensure they provide their users with an effective choice, and require them to increase transparency with respect to aspects of their algorithms.

(Reporting by Muvija M, Editing by Paul Sandle and Angus MacSwan)