Government amends Digital Markets Bill to address competition concerns

Following changes to the upcoming Digital, Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, the UK’s competition watchdog will be unable to impose an intervention on firms unless its deemed “proportionate” to do so.

The bill, which has its remaining stages scheduled for 20 November, is set to introduce a new “targeted and proportionate” regulatory regime to address concerns around competition in the digital industry while ensuring that the UK “remains one of the best places to invest in and innovate new technology.”

Under the legislation, the government said that certain firms may be subject to fines that could reach tens of billions of pounds.

These firms will now be able to challenge these decisions “on their merits” to make sure these significant fines are balanced by “rigorous checks and balances”, it added.

The government also said the proposed bill amendments introduced on Wednesday will maintain the appeals process for “all regulatory decisions (except fines) on the basis of judicial review principles.”

This will mean that eligible tech firms can challenge regulatory decisions on proportionality grounds through this process, it added.

The government went on to say that this approach would enable the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to “encourage the most powerful firms in dynamic digital markets to work with regulators to ensure competition is maintained on an ongoing basis, rather than allowing legal challenges to cause the regime to get bogged down in the courts.”

“The changes we are making ensure that the regulator takes proportionate action and avoids undue regulatory burdens, while remaining accountable for decisions that will have far-reaching economic consequences,” explained science, innovation and technology minister Saqib Bhatti.

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