Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Digital Competition Expert Panel

Digital Competition Expert Panel

Led by Jason Furman, Barack Obama's chief economic adviser, an independent panel of experts found that the digital advertising market "is dominated by two players and suffers from a lack of transparency".

A new competition unit with expertise in the sector should be set up, the independent review said, and innovation should be encouraged by giving people control over their own data so they could switch between rival services and platforms easily.

The report, which was commissioned by chancellor Philip Hammond, states tech firms have become increasingly dominant in the market, limiting the control consumers have over their personal data. The UK must remaining a welcoming place for digital business from around the world, and ensure that the UK competition and wider regulatory framework is not in conflict with the other leading digital economies with which we must compete. "I think the United Kingdom can do better".

Smaller companies should also have access to the data that social media platforms hold on their users, it recommended.

Harvard Professor Jason Furman has warned that United Kingdom competition rules must be updated to be fit for the digital age.

In response, Mr Hammond said: "The UK leads the world in embracing technology and the opportunities it delivers for people". The panel of experts also suggested changes to merger rules were needed so the government had "more power" to stop digital acquisitions that were likely to "damage future competition, innovation and consumer choice".


Damian Collins MP, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee also backed calls for tighter regulation.

Harvard Professor Jason Furman has warned that United Kingdom competition rules must be updated to be fit for the digital age. According to the report, publishers complain that because the digital advertising supply chain is opaque, it's hard for them to get a fair return on ads that go with their content.

"We welcome the measures put forward to tackle anti-competitive practices and bullying tactics by market leaders".

As we've observed before, with growing cynicism, empty gesture politics when it comes to tech regulation, particularly from non-US authorities in relation to United States firms, are empty calories in terms of responsible action.

"My committee was concerned by the treatment of inferred data by large tech companies such as Facebook, and it is essential that the Government acts to protect consumers".

"With a history of fair and robust regulation, and with the largest tech sector in Europe, the United Kingdom is uniquely placed to set world-leading standards in the digital arena".

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