UK imposes strict tech rules under new digital watchdog | Tech News

Authorities in the UK and across Europe have led the global campaign to crack down on tech companies.

Big tech companies like Google and Facebook parent company Meta would have to comply with tough UK rules under a new digital watchdog aimed at giving consumers more choice online – or face the threatens heavy fines.

The UK government on Friday outlined the powers it plans for its Digital Markets Unit, a regulator created last year to tackle the dominance of tech giants. He did not say when the rules would come into effect, saying only that the legislation would come “in due course”.

Authorities in the UK and across Europe have led the global campaign to crack down on tech companies amid growing concerns about their outsized influence and the proliferation of harmful material on their platforms.

Britain’s new watchdog would enforce rules that make it easier for people to switch between iPhones and Android devices or between social media accounts without losing their data and messages.

The government’s digital department says smartphone users will benefit from more choice of search engines and more control over how their data is used. Tech companies should warn small businesses that do much of their business online about changes to algorithms that could affect their web traffic and revenue.

The watchdog would also have the power to resolve pricing disputes between online platforms and news publishers to ensure media companies are paid fairly for their content, the government said.

Tech companies would face fines of up to 10% of their annual global revenue for breaking the rules, which for larger companies would amount to billions of dollars.

Google and Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The UK rules come on top of a separate online safety law which is in the works, which would give users more power to block anonymous trolls and strengthen requirements for digital platforms to remove illegal material such as posts involving child sexual abuse or terrorism.

The European Union has similar laws in the works. The 27-nation bloc’s Digital Services Act will force big tech companies to more strictly vet their platforms for harmful or illegal content and services, while its Digital Markets Act aims to rein in online “gatekeepers”. Both threaten hefty fines for violations.

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