After intense lobbying by Silicon Valley, ministers have weakened their powers to impose massive fines on tech giants who abuse monopolies.
After amendments to the competition law, tech companies have new grounds for appealing fines up to 10% of their global turnover.
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill was due to grant new, tough powers to the Competition and Markets Authority. This could include the blocking of takeovers.
Nevertheless, there have been changes to provide a wider range of appeals.
a response to the growing power of big tech, may force Apple and Google to allow other app stores.
Google and Meta could be forced to pay news providers by law.
Silicon Valley giants were not happy with the proposals because they would only have been able to appeal based on narrow procedural grounds and not be able launch expensive legal challenges.
On Wednesday, the Government amended the DMCC to allow companies to appeal fines based on their merits.
Other decisions, like those that govern the conduct of companies, are only appealable on a limited basis, similar to an judicial review. Apple, Microsoft, and Meta were some of those who pushed for an “in-depth” review of every decision.
The Institute of Economic Affairs , which had been lobbying for changes, said that the amendments were not enough.
The director of policy at the think-tank, James Lesh, said: “The DMCC gives the CMA expansive powers in an area that is one of the most dynamic in the world with very limited accountability. This risks regulatory overkill and reduces innovation and investment in the UK.”
Owen Meredith is the chief executive officer of the News Media Association. He said, “We are pleased that the government has decided to keep the judicial review standards for appeals regarding regulatory decisions.”
This will allow the CMA to be effective and not get bogged down by complex, long and expensive legal disputes that would make the new regime ineffective.
Spotify, one the most prominent supporters of this law, stated: “A strong, balanced DMCC, which includes an efficient legal procedure, will boost a UK tech scene that is more innovative, globally competitive, and reduce the harmful dominance of companies such as Apple over the UK’s digital market.”
The CMA stated: “It’s important that the judicial-review standard is retained for all appeals relating to regulatory decisions under the new regime with the exception of fines. “