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The UK’s new regulator for tech giants Facebook and Google will begin operations on Wednesday with the aim of determining whether a code of conduct will boost the power balance between platforms and news publishers.

After the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stated that existing regulations were insufficient, the government formed the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) to prevent large technology firms from exploiting their market supremacy.

Big Tech’s strength and scope have expanded faster than many governments’ ability to control them.

Oliver Dowden, the UK’s Digital Secretary, said he had asked the DMU to look at how a code could regulate relationships between platforms and content providers, such as news publishers, to ensure they were fair and realistic.

‘Choice and control’

“The Digital Markets Unit has launched and I’ve asked it to begin by looking at the relationships between platforms and content providers and platforms and digital advertisers,” he said in a statement.

“This will pave the way for the development of new digital services and lower prices, give consumers more choice and control over their data, and support our news industry, which is vital to freedom of expression and our democratic values.”

After the CMA concluded last year that Google had significant market power in search and search ads, and that Facebook had significant market power in social media and display advertising, the unit was created.

The UK stated that the unit will work with foreign partners who are also dealing with issues of technology regulation.

In February, a dispute between Facebook and the Australian government over compensation for local news highlighted the rising problem of controlling Big Tech, which has since been resolved.

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In reaction to new laws, the social media giant briefly blacked out news material, a move that was widely panned by journalists and politicians around the world.

Last month, News Corp, owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, agreed to supply content to Facebook Inc in Australia. The contract, whose terms were not released, made News Corp the first major media company to reach an agreement with Facebook under the controversial new laws that allow an Australian government-appointed arbitrator to set fees if businesses fail to comply.

Dowden will host a meeting of digital and technology ministers in April to discuss information sharing and the integration of regulatory and policy approaches, according to the government.

The DMU is waiting for legislation from the government to grant it the authority it needs.


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