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Chair reacts to the Furman Review Expert Panel's report on unlocking digital competition

13 March 2019

Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, reacts to the Furman Review Expert Panel's report on unlocking digital competition published today.

Chair's comment

“I welcome the publication of Professor Furman and his Expert Panel's report on unlocking digital competition. It's 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.

“It is clear that a strong code of ethics is needed to regulate online platforms, and I agree with the report's conclusion that the proposed code of competitive conduct is complementary with the code of ethics suggested by my Committee.

“We welcome the measures put forward to tackle anti-competitive practices and bullying tactics by market leaders. This comes at a critical moment ahead of the beginnings of regulation from Government to rein in the powers of the tech companies. 

“The Expert Panel has joined with Dame Francis Cairncross and my Committee in requesting that the CMA undertake an investigation into the digital advertising market to examine whether competition is working effectively and whether consumer harms are arising. This audit is crucial should start without delay.

“I agree with the report that common data standards, including around the treatment of inferred data, should be set. My Committee was concerned by the treatment of inferred data by large tech companies such as Facebook, and it is essential that the Government acts to protect consumers.

“The report is right to highlight that United Kingdom has the opportunity to lead by example in the area of digital regulation. With a history of fair and robust regulation, and with the largest tech sector in Europe, the UK is uniquely placed to set world leading standards in the digital arena. Through the formation of the ‘International Grand Committee' it has already been demonstrated that other nations are ready to work with us to tackle the plethora of challenges presented by social media platforms.”

Notes for editors:

The DCMS Committee's final report on Disinformation and ‘fake news' was published 18th February 2019.

Code of ethics: Paragraph 37 of the DCMS Committee's final report recommended that ‘a compulsory Code of Ethics should be established, overseen by an independent regulator, setting out what constitutes harmful content.' This code of ethics is compatible and complementary with the Expert Panel's recommendation action 1 regarding the establishment of a code of competitive conduct. This is further highlighted in paragraph 2.42.

CMA review of the digital advertising market: Paragraph 139 of the DCMS Committee's final report recommended that the CMA “should conduct a comprehensive audit of the operation of the advertising market on social media”. A recommendation echoed by the Cairncross Review. The Expert Panel came to the same conclusion, as highlighted in strategic recommendation E.

Inferred data: The Expert Panel's recommendation action 20 supports the DCMS Committee's recommendation that inferred data should be protected under the law as personal information, as set out in Paragraph 48 of the Committee's final report.

Digital monopolies: in its final report, the DCMS Committee highlighted the monopolistic tendencies of major technology companies, and in particular Facebook. This view was in part formed by documents received from the technology developer Six4Three and published by the Committee.

Global leadership: throughout the inquiry, the DCMS Committee engaged with international partners to help form its recommendations. This culminated with the formation of the ‘International Grand Committee' in on the 27th November 2018, led by Damian Collins MP. The International Grand Committee is due to meet again in Ottawa on 28th May 2019.

Further information

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