Panel urges UK to establish competition regulator for tech companies

A panel of economic experts is urging the United Kingdom to establish a new regulatory agency to police tech giants for anti-competitive behavior.

The panel, led by former Obama economic adviser Jason FurmanJason FurmanTrillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and hardly a voice of caution to be heard Billionaires paid lower tax rate than working class for first time in US history: study Economy adds 130K jobs in August, falling below expectations MORE, issued a report Wednesday detailing the need for a more vigorous and responsive approach to antitrust enforcement when it comes to big tech.

The competition regulator would focus on lowering the barriers for entry for new competitors by imposing a code of conduct on the industry.

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The code would require internet companies to make user data easily transferable to other services, which the panel argues would give consumers more choices. The report also recommends implementing rules that would allow for greater scrutiny of pending mergers that could damage competition.

“Instead of just relying on traditional competition tools, the UK should take a forward-looking approach that creates and enforces a clear set of rules to limit anti-competitive actions by the most significant digital platforms while also reducing structural barriers that currently hinder effective competition,” the report reads.

Robert Atkinson, the president of the tech policy think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, blasted the report’s “flawed” conclusions, arguing that it is natural and beneficial for social media to be heavily consolidated.

“The review rightly recognizes that the digital economy is highly beneficial to consumers, but the proposals offered would limit large firms from promoting innovation and maximizing consumer welfare, which are critical drivers of nation’s competitiveness and growth,” Atkinson said in a statement.

The report comes as political leaders around the world are taking aim at tech giants over questions about their market power. Last week, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.), a 2020 presidential candidate, proposed breaking up companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon because of their outsize influence on the economy and society as a whole.

“As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people,” Warren wrote in a blog post last week.