Technology Boost for Silicon Valley as tech giants granted power...

Boost for Silicon Valley as tech giants granted power to appeal fines

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Ministers have watered down powers to hit tech giants with massive fines for monopoly abuse after fierce lobbying from Silicon Valley.

Tech companies will have now more grounds to appeal fines of up to 10pc of a company’s global turnover after amendments to competition legislation.

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (DMCC) has been due to grant tough new powers to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), including the potential blocking of takeovers.

However, changes have been made to allow broader avenues of appeal.

The legislation, an attempt to respond to big tech’s growing clout, could mean Apple and Google are forced to allow alternative app stores.

The laws could also force Google and Meta to pay news providers for content.

The proposals had been unpopular among Silicon Valley giants because the companies would only be able to appeal on narrow procedural grounds, rather than launching expensive legal challenges in court.

A Government amendment to the DMCC on Wednesday said companies will now be able to appeal fines “on the merits”.

However, other decisions, such as those governing companies’ conduct, can only be appealed on more limited grounds, similar to a judicial review. Apple, Microsoft and Meta were among those who had pushed for a “full merits” review of all decisions.

The Institute of Economic Affairs, which had lobbied for changes, said the amendments had not gone far enough.

“The DMCC provides the CMA with expansive powers to intervene in one of the world’s most dynamic sectors with extremely limited accountability – and in the process risks regulatory overkill, reducing innovation and investment into the UK,” said the think tank’s director of policy James Lesh.

Owen Meredith, the chief executive of the News Media Association, said: “We welcome the decision from the government today to maintain the judicial review standard for appeals on regulatory decisions.

“This will ensure the CMA has the tools to act and is not bogged down in complex, lengthy, and costly legal wrangling, which would render the new regime ineffective.”

Spotify, one of the foremost supporters of the law, said: “A strong and balanced DMCC that includes an efficient legal process will boost a more innovative and globally competitive UK tech scene and break down the harmful dominance that companies like Apple have over the UK digital market.”

The CMA said: “It is important that the judicial review standard has been retained for all appeals of regulatory decisions in the new regime, with the exception of fines. “

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