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UK government announces plans to shake up competition in Big Tech

iPhone event
iPhone event (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • The UK has today unveiled new government proposals to curb the power of tech giants in the country whilst increasing competition.
  • A digital markets watchdog will be given the power to label big firms with a new Strategic Market Status if they have too much power.
  • They will then be forced to follow "rules of acceptable behavior" to increase competition.

The UK government has today unveiled proposals that could see companies like Apple slapped with a 'Strategic Market Status' and forced to follow new rules.

The government today set out proposals "for a new pro-competition regime for digital markets," stating the move would support the UK's growing tech sector and protect consumers.

Under the new proposals the Digital Markets Unit, an industry watchdog, will be given the power to label tech firms as having "substantial and entrenched market power". The new 'Strategic Market Status' would require firms to follow "new rules of acceptable behavior with competitors and customers in a move that will benefit the public and drive growth and innovation across the economy."

The DMU will work in tandem with the Competition and Markets Authority to promote stronger competition in the digital sector.

A consultation is to be held on the proposed objectives and powers given to the DMU, but notes some proposals that could prove dicey for Apple:

This could include tech platforms not pushing their customers into using default or mandatory associated services, or ensuring third-party companies that depend on them aren't blocked from doing business with competitors.

The government says firmed could be fined a maximum of 10 percent of their entire turnover "for the most serious breaches." The DMU would also have the power to "suspend, block and reverse code-breaching behavior by tech giants".

UK Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, "nobody wants to see an unassailable monopoly and our common-sense reforms will help protect consumers, support ground-breaking new ideas and level the playing field for businesses." The proposals do not name any companies directly, but it's not hard to imagine that Apple is one of the primary targets of the new proposals.

Earlier this year it was announced that Apple was under investigation by the CMA over 'suspected anti-competitive behavior' regarding the App Store, which is the only way for developers to distribute third-party apps on devices like the iPhone 12 and Apple's iPad.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.