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UK: CMA publishes final report on online platforms and digital advertising

The Competition and Markets Authority ('CMA') published, on 1 July 2020, its final market study report ('the Report') on online platforms and digital advertising. In particular, the Report assesses how well the markets for search, social media, and digital advertising are working, and the role of Google and Facebook within them. Specifically, the Report outlines concerns relating to limited choice and competition, including the fact that consumers receive inadequate compensation for the use of their personal data by online platforms, and are less able to control or understand how their personal data are used and may effectively be faced with a 'take it or leave it' offer when it comes to signing up to platforms' terms and conditions and privacy policies, thus potentially providing more personal data to platforms than they would like.

As a result, the Report calls on the UK Government to develop a pro-competition regulatory regime to oversee the activities of online platforms funded by digital advertising. In addition, the Report highlights that a Digital Markets Unit would be empowered to enforce a code of conduct to govern the behaviour of platforms with market power, and would be given powers to tackle sources of market power and increase competition, including increasing interoperability and providing access to data. Moreover, the Report notes that the CMA will be leading the work of the Digital Markets Taskforce, commissioned by the Government to provide expert advice on the action that is necessary to promote competition and innovation in digital platform markets, and that the same has engaged constructively with the Information Commissioner 's Office ('ICO') on issues relating to the intersection of competition and data protection.

You can read the Report here.

UPDATE (6 July 2020)

ICO issues statement on CMA's Report

The ICO issued, on 1 July 2020, a statement on the CMA's Report, highlighting that giving people control over their data is vital to data protection law and noting that it looks forward to working with the CMA and the Office of Communications ('Ofcom') through the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum and the Digital Markets Taskforce, by contributing its expertise in data protection and ePrivacy rules.

You can read the statement here.