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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Britain must intervene to loosen tech giants dominance, says Obama former adviser

Barack Obama's former economic adviser offers proposals to create new competition against Google and Facebook

Icons of Facebook and WhatsApp are pictured on an iPhone in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. UK government is warned to help develop competition against the tech giants. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Icons of Facebook and WhatsApp are pictured on an iPhone in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. UK government is warned to help develop competition against the tech giants. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Britain must find ways to help new social media companies to rival technology giants Google and Facebook, a government-commissioned study has found.

Regulators need to be given extra powers to tackle the grip that that the biggest players have over the market, according to the report by Harvard professor Jason Furman, the former chief economic adviser to former US President Barack Obama.

Mr Furman and an independent panel of experts also called for a new code of conduct for tech firms and for merger rules to be ripped up to prevent tech giants from keeping a grip on the market and stifling innovation.

“The digital sector has created substantial benefits but these have come at the cost of increasing dominance of a few companies which is limiting competition and consumer choice and innovation,” said Mr Furman.

“Some say this is inevitable or even desirable. I think the UK can do better.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond said he expects to “carefully examine the proposals put forward by the panel before responding later this year”.

Proposals include a platform that aggregates a person’s social media activity to make it easier to connect with friends who use different apps.

“I welcome the publication of Professor Furman and his expert panel’s report on unlocking digital competition,” said Damian Collins MP, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee.

“Its central conclusions that digital markets only work well if they are supported with strong pro-competition policies, corroborates a number of the findings of my committee’s report into disinformation and ‘fake news’ published in February.”

Updated: March 13, 2019 08:16 PM

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