Tougher Rules Recommended Over UK Online Ads In UK For Google, Facebook

While indicating that the tech giants Google and Facebook would be spared an in-depth investigation over allegations of the companies unfairly dominating the online advertising market, Britain’s competition regulator stressed on the need for stricter regulations for such tech companies to prevent any negative consequences of the market dominance of the companies.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that the recommendations by it were appropriate because of the global challenge of controlling the tech giants and the commitment of governments to bring in regulatory reforms bur added that ‘big’ was not necessarily ‘bad’ for the market and for fairness in business dealings.

Om 2018, 80 per cent of all search advertisements in the United Kingdom went to Google, the CMA said and amassed a total revenue of about 6 billion pounds. On the other hand, almost half of all display advertising in the UK last year was bagged by Facebook.

The regulator said that it was concerned about negative consequences for users of the services of these tech giants even though the companies have offered innovative and valuable products and services to the market. It also said that the users felt that they were not in complete control of their data when they use the platforms.

“Most of us visit social media sites and search on the internet every day, but how these firms work can be a mystery,” CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said in a report.

Facebook was continuing to deliver the benefits of its technology and the relevant advertising that is get to its users in Britain, the social media company said and added that it was “fully committed” to work with the CMA consultation process.

“We agree with the CMA that people should have control over their data and transparency around how it is used,” a spokesman said. He also added that users are offered the option to completely turn off ads from advertisers for every ad Facebook shows. Its users are also given tools that allow its users to control their data and to transfer it to other services, the company said.

A similar commitment of working together with the CMA and the government on the issue of online advertisement was given by Google VP for UK and Ireland Ronan Harris. He added that the digital advertising money “supports the websites that people know and love with revenue and reach”.

“We’ve built easy-to-use controls that enable people to manage their data in Google’s services — such as the ability to turn off personalised advertising and to automatically delete their search history.”

The manner in which the tech companies collected and used data, how they monetised it and what this meant for rivals, had been looked into by it, the CMA said. The regulator had started its inquiry in July. It also looked into how the services are being used by the people and businesses.

The CMA had signaled its desire for a new regulatory regime but not an in-depth probe, said Christian Ahlborn, global head of competition at law firm Linklaters.

“All this suggests that 2020 will be a year of intense scrutiny by the CMA,” he said, adding: “More generally, online advertising will also continue to be the subject of enquiry by data regulators across the globe, concerned about the speed, scale and intricacy of data sharing.”

(Adapted from Reuters.com)

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