Britons will be worse off if the tech giants are given more powers by regulators, expert warns 

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Britons will be worse off if the tech giants are given more powers by regulators, expert warns 

Britons will be left worse off if tech giants are given stronger powers to appeal decisions made by a new digital regulator, the consumer watchdog has

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Britons will be left worse off if tech giants are given stronger powers to appeal decisions made by a new digital regulator, the consumer watchdog has warned.

Rocio Concha, chief economist at Which?, said a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) is necessary to ensure consumers are not ripped off online – but warned yesterday that its effectiveness would be ‘undermined’ if the Bill was changed to make it easier for tech firms to question its rulings.

Giving evidence to the Lords communications and digital committee, she told peers it would leave the DMU ‘locked in legal battles’ that would ultimately leave it redundant.

The regulator has been set up to curb the biggest tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, in sectors such as online advertising and app stores.

Britons will be left worse off if tech giants are given stronger powers to appeal decisions made by a new digital regulator, consumer watchdog Which? has warned

Britons will be left worse off if tech giants are given stronger powers to appeal decisions made by a new digital regulator, consumer watchdog Which? has warned

Britons will be left worse off if tech giants are given stronger powers to appeal decisions made by a new digital regulator, consumer watchdog Which? has warned

Under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill, it will be handed powers to force firms to significantly alter their business models and fine them up to 10 per cent of their global turnover. Currently, any decision can be subject to judicial review – a quick and cheap process that allows companies to question the ruling on a point of law.

But concerns have been raised over a concerted lobbying campaign to change this to a merits-based system, which will instead allow firms to appeal whether the decision was right or wrong.

MPs were last week warned it would be used as a ‘delaying tactic’ to stop any decisions being implemented, with the process often being very expensive and dragging through the courts for years.

The Lords committee yesterday also heard from the boss of price comparison website Kelkoo, who told how his company had been ‘decimated’ by Google after the tech giant decided it was a threat. Richard Stables said Google put its own service at the top of search listings and demoted his website so far that no users were able to see it, resulting in huge job cuts and office closures.

The firm lodged a complaint with the EU in 2009 – but the legal case is still running to this day despite Google being found guilty and fined more than £2billion for breaching competition law.

Mr Stables said Google has continued appealing the decision, meaning the situation has still not been remedied more than 13 years later.

He warned the exact same thing would happen in the UK if the merits-based system was brought in. He said the legislation needed to be ‘robust’ and not allow tech giants to ‘run rings around [the DMU] just because they’ve got thousands of lawyers and enormous budgets’.

Ms Concha said it was vital that judicial review was the process used under the Bill, warning: ‘We change that and the regime doesn’t work.’

She added that changes would leave the DMU ‘locked in legal battles and they will never be able to implement this, and it would cause other businesses to fail, similar to Kelkoo, and would be unfair on consumers who will not see new innovations in these markets’.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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