New Code to Force Tech Giants to Provide Greater Data Transparency and Choice

New Code to Force Tech Giants to Provide Greater Data Transparency and Choice

The UK government has unveiled plans to develop a new statutory code for tech companies that is designed to give customers more choice and control over their data.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that a dedicated Digital Markets Unit will work alongside regulators such as Ofcom and the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to create and enforce the code, which will govern the behavior of digital platforms, including those funded by digital advertising currently dominating the market, such as Google and Facebook. Measures are likely to include forcing such firms to be more transparent about how they are using customer data and to offer consumers a choice on whether they’d like to receive personalized advertising.

Another important aim of the code is to harness more competition within the online publishing industry by helping ensure smaller businesses aren’t disadvantaged by tech giants. This could include ensuring small businesses have fair access to platform services that help them grow their online business, such as digital advertising.

The unit, which will be part of the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), will begin operating from April 2021, and may have the power to suspend, block and reverse decisions made by tech firms as well as impose financial penalties for non-compliance.

Issues surrounding the use of data online have come into sharper focus this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to a huge rise in digital users, including the sharing of creative content and advertising of small businesses’ products and services.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden commented: “I’m unashamedly pro-tech and the services of digital platforms are positively transforming the economy, bringing huge benefits to businesses, consumers and society.

“However, there is growing consensus in the UK and abroad that the concentration of power among a small number of tech companies is curtailing growth of the sector, reducing innovation and having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them. It is time to address that and unleash a new age of tech growth.”

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