Spotify’s boss calls on UK to tighten up regulation of tech gatekeepers

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO, has called on the UK government to take advantage of its freedom to implement new rules outside the EU that will reduce the dominance by big tech companies.

Ek said in an interview that the development of artificial intelligent would be “super-important” but expressed concern that regulations made today would quickly become outdated because of the pace at which technology is changing.

It’s developing very quickly. He said that AI capabilities today will not be the same in six months as they will be in a few years.

The co-founder and CEO of Spotify was in the UK lobbying ministers on the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, currently being debated in parliament.

The bill regulates competition on digital markets. New rules will create an even playing field for large tech groups to compete with smaller start-ups. The bill will give competition authorities the power to set up conduct requirements that big groups must follow to limit harm to rivals and consumers.

Ek claimed that digital platforms like Apple, who act as gatekeepers of the internet, are unfairly holding back Spotify. He said that “the UK now sets its own agenda” after Brexit.

He continued: “I find that absurd that two companies [Apple] and Google control the way over 4bn people access the internet in the world. They not only dictate the rules but also compete with these providers directly.

Ek stated that the UK legislation must ensure that “if one wants to be a referee, they cannot also be a player” on the digital market.

He said, “If we are going to pass the DMCC Regulation, it must have teeth.” He also calls on EU legislators to fully implement similar legislation, called the Digital Markets Act(DMA), as well as backing the Open App Markets Actin the US.

Spotify, the leading music streaming service, has been criticized in the past over the amount of money paid to artists and the lack of exposure given to lesser-known musicians.

Ek stated that the debate wasn’t about the price of using the App store, but rather the fact that Apple is so dominant in the eyes of a large number of consumers. Apple acts as a gatekeeper for this group while offering rival services.

He said that Apple’s direct competitors were required to pay a commission on sales made in apps. “That’s when it becomes anticompetitive.”

He said, “This is for all developers.” Apple is now a rival for more and more developers.

After Spotify filed a complaint in 2019, the EU launched a case for antitrust against Apple.

Apple responded to an update in the case that was given to the European Commission back in February of this year by saying it would continue to “work with them to understand their concerns and to respond to them, while also promoting choice and competition for European consumers”.

Apple, who declined to comment on Ek’s remarks, stated at the time that “the App Store has helped Spotify to become the number one music streaming service in Europe, and we hope the European Commission ends its pursuit of an unfounded complaint.”

The government spokesperson stated that the digital markets legislation would “unleash new innovation”, as well as provide the Competition and Markets Authority with “targeted tools” to ensure digital markets were as innovative and competitive as possible.