UK Antitrust Regulator Alerts Big Tech Of Imminent Investigations

UK Antitrust Regulator Alerts Big Tech Of Imminent Investigations

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), U.K.’s antitrust watchdog, has given Big Tech a heads-up that investigations are imminent, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Monday (Feb. 22). The competition watchdog has said that the next 12 months will be a time of cracking down on technology monopolies in the aftermath of Brexit, Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, told FT.

Several investigations are already well underway into the business practices of technology firms. The declaration follows Britain’s independence from European Union (EU) regulations. In this new political environment, the CMA will likely be given extended influence later this year via a new department specific to the tech industry.

“Until we have these new legal powers, if we want to achieve impact for consumers in the U.K., we need to use our current [tools],” Coscelli told the news outlet. “There are quite a few cases against the digital platforms in Brussels today, and a number of these cases include the U.K. market.”

Technology platforms worldwide are facing increasing probes into how they conduct business and make money. The EU has already embarked on multiple investigations into big U.S. tech companies, including Google, Apple and Amazon. The new investigations being launched by the CMA will be independent, but the U.K. is planning to continue its alignment with Brussels on other joint antitrust investigations at least until next year, the article indicated.

The CMA is not looking to duplicate investigations already in the works elsewhere. Instead, it is planning probes into companies and business practices not presently under investigation. “We are actively scanning the players, the complaints we have received, the cases that others are doing, what could be done in parallel with others … the gaps in the work the European Commission is doing,” Coscelli told the news outlet. “We certainly expect to open more cases during the course of this year.”

As reported late in 2020, antitrust enforcement is being advanced in both the U.S. and the U.K. by a coalition of 165 companies and industry associations. The stage for Big Tech regulations was set in 2020 and is now taking off for a full-stage production in 2021. Meanwhile, the U.K. said it will establish a new regulatory regime to police technology firms. 

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