Injection of confidence - Britain gets an assertive new tech regulator just in time for Brexit | Britain
DECEMBER 8TH was a big day for jabs in Britain. In Coventry, at the crack of dawn, Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a proven covid-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, in London, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the blueprint for a new regime of oversight of tech companies. Less momentous, it nonetheless provides a shot in the arm to Britain’s post-Brexit regulatory reputation. “Ground-breaking” is how one competition lawyer describes it.
The idea of the new regime is something
Most competition law applies to all firms, or is written for specific industries. The DMU will take this a step further, assigning
The significance of the CMA’s plan goes beyond its effect on technology companies. The CMA is “setting out its stall as a world leader in competition post-Brexit”, says Katherine Kirrage, a digital competition and regulatory lawyer at Osborne Clarke, a law firm.
There are political considerations to all this. The government now has to enshrine the DMU’s powers in law, but will want to ensure Britain remains an attractive place for big tech companies after Brexit. Tighten the rules too much and firms may flee to Dublin or Amsterdam; leave them too loose and it risks damaging relations with the EU. So far, Britain’s plans are broadly in step with how Europe and other countries are thinking about competition in the tech sector, says Damian Tambini of the London School of Economics, and regulators have worked well together. That is an encouraging start. But it is unlikely to inoculate against other challenges to come. ■
This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline "Injection of confidence"