The new Digital Markets Unit
In November 2020 the government announced the establishment of a regulatory watchdog to enforce a new pro-competition regime covering platforms with considerable market power. The new Digital Markets Unit (DMU) has now been set up within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The new regulatory regime will require legislation to grant it full powers, and the government is expected to consult on proposals this year. In the meantime, it will sit within the CMA on a non-statutory basis. The recently published Terms of Reference set out the role. In the immediate term the focus of the DMU will be on the following:
- Carrying out preparatory work to implement the statutory regime – ensuring operational readiness by building teams with the relevant capabilities and preparing draft guidance.
- Supporting and advising government on establishing the statutory regime – provide key insights to inform decisions about the shape of the new pro-competition regime, building on the advice of the Digital Markets Taskforce.
- Evidence-gathering on digital markets – the CMA will continue to use its existing powers to investigate harm to competition in digital markets which will ultimately inform the work of the statutory DMU.
- Engaging stakeholders across industry, academia, other regulators and government – building close relationships to ensure diverse insights underpin the new regime.
The CMA is already working with the ICO, FCA and Ofcom to coordinate regulation of digital firms. This work will help inform the DMU’s approach going forward.