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Britain's tech regulator faces delay in receiving legal powers

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By Reuters

LONDON – Britain’s new digital regulator will have to wait for the statutory powers it wanted to underpin its oversight of big tech after the government proposed introducing a draft bill rather than a full bill on Tuesday in its new agenda.

The Digital Markets Unit, set up in the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, aims to bolster competition by preventing the likes of Google and Facebook from using their dominance to push out smaller firms and disadvantage consumers.

The CMA wanted it to be underpinned by a legally binding code of conduct, with penalties including fines of up to 10% of turnover, as well as enhanced merger rules.

A target date of 2022 was set for the statutory powers when the unit was announced in 2020.

The government said on Tuesday it would propose draft legislation in the new session of parliament that would empower the DMU to designate a small number of powerful firms with strategic market status, resulting in them facing “legally enforceable rules and obligations”.

A draft bill is generally scrutinised by a parliamentary committee before the introduction of a full bill.