London launches code of conduct targeting Google and Facebook

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London | The British government on Friday announced a series of measures to limit the power of digital giants like Facebook and Google, whether in the use of personal data or online advertising.

A new code of conduct, under the aegis of a new “Digital Markets Units” will be put in place to improve competition and better protect consumers, according to a press release from the Ministry of Business and that of Digital.

The government has decided to follow the proposals made in July by the British competition gendarme, which will house this new unit, and who was worried about the domination of the American giants.

“Our new pro-competition regime for digital markets will ensure that consumers have choice and that smaller businesses are not excluded,” said Alok Sharma, Minister for Enterprise.

London recognizes the benefits of these platforms but points to “the concentration of power between a small number of digital companies”, which slows the growth of the sector, reduces innovation and can have negative effects on society.

The new code may force platforms to be more transparent in the services provided and in the way they use personal data.

Consumers will be able to choose whether or not to receive personalized advertising online.

The Digital Markets Unit will launch in April and will be able to force digital giants to change their practice if necessary, and will have the ability to impose fines for non-compliance.

Finally, this code will be a means of guaranteeing more equitable commercial contracts between the digital giants and the press.

The government wants to prevent platforms from using their dominant position to impose unfavorable financial terms on newspaper titles, especially new entrants, which limits their ability to monetize their income.

According to the Competition Authority (CMA), spending on online advertising reached around £ 14 billion in 2019 in the UK, 80% of which is captured by Facebook and Google.

And newspapers depend on Google and Facebook for nearly 40% of visits to their sites.

The CMA had chosen to make recommendations, rather than opening an investigation into the online advertising market as it has the power to do.

In response to the government’s announcements, Google said it looks forward to working “constructively” with the new unit.

Facebook, which is about to launch in the UK Facebook News, its news feed fed by journalists, has promised to help press titles on its platforms.

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