The UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act targeting the domination of Big Tech has become law after receiving Royal Assent.

A version of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, it will give the Competition and Markets Authority regulator the tools to stop technology businesses with strategic power from misusing their position to disadvantage competitors and consumers.

While the EU version is a set of rules by which companies must comply, the UK has opted to create rules for each specific company – tailored to circumstances – while, while time-consuming, will enable the issuance of fines of up to 10% of global turnover, without the need to go through the courts.

These ‘conduct requirements’, set by the regulator, require a powerful tech company to change the way it operates if it is not treating users fairly and could give consumers the room to freely choose the services they use, or stop companies from withholding information consumers need to make good decisions.

Only a handful of the most powerful global technology companies will be subject to these new rules if, following an investigation, they are deemed to hold ‘strategic market status’. 

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The government said the Act also paves the way to give consumers rights across the UK, with greater control and clarity over online purchases. It does this by requiring businesses to provide clearer information to consumers before they enter a subscription contract, remind consumers that their free trial or low-cost trial is coming to an end, and ensure consumers can easily exit a contract. 

Unavoidable hidden fees will also need to be included in the initial cost or clearly illustrated at the start of the purchasing journey. This will ensure consumers are clear from the offset about what they’re spending. 

The Act will also give new powers to the CMA to closely monitor road fuel prices and report any sign of malpractice to the government.

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