FURIOUS ministers warned Facebook they “won’t shy away” from cracking down on the tech giant in the wake of their Australian newsfeed ban.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “nothing is off the table” – including billion pound fines – after he vowed to raise the “tech titans'” behaviour at this summer’s G7.
The social media giant was blasted for blocking news content in Australia after they introduced a law forcing tech giants to pay for news content on their platforms.
Yesterday, Mr Dowden spoke with former Deputy PM Nick Clegg who now works for Facebook to warn them over their behaviour.
Mr Dowden said: “Tech titans have become the gatekeepers of online knowledge and the custodians of virtual public squares, and the government won’t shy away from intervening to protect the interests of the public when it needs to.”
He added: “Turning the tap off on news in a global pandemic was a concerning move which looked like Facebook was putting its bottom line above the public interest.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again.
“Recent events have strengthened my view that we do not have properly functioning digital markets, and the UK will be at the forefront of global efforts to address this.
“We are working on a pro-competition regime which will benefit not just news publishers, but also consumers and other businesses affected by the market dominance of a small number of big platforms.”
He also revealed he is planning to use the G7 Carbis Bay, Cornwall in June to address competition concerns in digital markets.
Mr Dowden added: “We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.
“We are advanced in our thinking on how to achieve this, but need an international consensus.”
Officials are understood to be seeking the opportunity to address the issue of digital competition as part of these discussions.
Last years ministers set up the Digital Markets Unit, which works within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), will work closely with regulators including Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office to introduce and enforce a new code too conduct to help police the likes of Google and Facebook.
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