Apple, Google Could Face Large Fines Under New UK Digital Consumer Bill

The U.K. government has introduced a new bill that would allow the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to impose multibillion-pound fines on major tech companies like Apple for breaching its rules.

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The multifaceted bill is designed to promote competition and protect consumers by giving the CMA the authority to tackle the "excessive dominance" of tech firms, according to a government press release.

Tech companies that are considered to have "strategic market status" in key digital services will be required to comply with its rules or the agency's Digital Markets Unit (DMU) could slap them with significant fines.

The CMA has not named which firms with "strategic market status" it will be monitoring, but a threshold will apply meaning that only firms with a global turnover above £25 billion, or U.K. turnover above £1 billion, will be in scope, so Apple, Google, and Amazon are likely to come under this definition.

The government said such firms could be required by the DMU to be more transparent about how their app stores and review systems work, and the agency would have powers to open up a specific market depending on the situation. For example, Apple could be told to allow iPhone and iPad users to download apps from alternative app stores, or if it was a search engine like Google, they could be forced to open up their data to rivals.

The legislation will also take aim at "subscription traps," where businesses make it difficult for consumers to cancel a contract. Under the new rules, companies would be required to remind consumers when a free trial or low-cost introductory offer is coming to an end and ensure that a contract can be quit in a cost-effective, straightforward way.

If firms don't abide by the rules set for them, the DMU will have the power to fine them up to 10% of their global turnover and make senior managers personally responsible for ensuring their company complies with the DMU's requests. As a ballpark figure, Apple earned $283 billion in revenue for 2022, so any hypothetical fine could be worth up to $28.3 billion.

"From abuse of power by tech giants, to fake reviews, scams and rip-offs like being caught in a subscription trap - consumers deserve better," said business and trade minister Kevin Hollinrake. "The new laws we're delivering today will empower the CMA to directly enforce consumer law, strengthen competition in digital markets and ensure that people across the country keep hold of their hard-earned cash."

In the making since 2021, the bill will be heard in parliament on Tuesday and the new measures will come into effect following parliamentary approval, subject to secondary legislation and the publication of guidance.

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Top Rated Comments

senttoschool Avatar
15 months ago
Just another country unable to compete so they resort to regulation.

Europeans often complain that goods and services are more expensive in the EU/UK. Here's a good example why.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Vol Braakzakje Avatar
15 months ago
I always wonder what would happen if Google and Apple and Amazon just stop serving the UK. I mean, it's a big market, but is it worth giving up their algorithms?
The citizens won't be happy when they can't use these platforms anymore.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skyscraperfan Avatar
15 months ago
The fact that Google still exists shows that governments do not really take that matter seriously. Google collects so much user data without consent that it would go bankrupt if it just had to pay $50 to every user.

Remember when Google started scanning books and making them available without the authors permission. Google also tracks the location of users even if they opt out. If someone rejects Google cookies, Google uses browser fingerprinting, which is clearly designed to track people against their will. The while reason why Android exists is just collectiing user data. Google does not really innovate. The buy innovative companies and rebrand them a Google product. For example Keyhole, which is now Google Earth. While it still was Keyhole, you had to pay money for that services. Now you have to pay with your privacy. It is shocking that people still use Gmail or Google Chrome.

Google usually bribes itself out of problems like that. Most countries would like Google offices on their territory. So Google has a lot of leverage. I am so proud of that the Berlin citizens told Google to f... off. That was quite unprecedented.

As long as creating detailed profiles of people to sell ads is still profitable, companies like Google will become more and more powerful. So government have to step in and stop that business model. Google is so rich that it was even able to bribe Apple into making Google the default search engine. They paid an 11 digit amount per year for that. So you can imagine how much money they make with turning user data into as revenue.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skyscraperfan Avatar
15 months ago

I always wonder what would happen if Google and Apple and Amazon just stop serving the UK. I mean, it's a big market, but is it worth giving up their algorithms?
The citizens won't be happy when they can't use these platforms anymore.
They will soon have great local alternatives that at the moment can't grow because of the market power of the huge companies.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Realityck Avatar
15 months ago

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has introduced a new bill that would allow it to impose multibillion-pound fines on major tech companies like Apple for breaching its rules.

If firms don't abide by the rules set for them, the DMU will have the power to fine them up to 10% of their global turnover and make senior managers personally responsible for ensuring their company complies with the DMU's requests. As a ballpark figure, Apple earned $283 billion in revenue for 2022, so any hypothetical fine could be worth up to $28.3 billion
i don’t buy into the logic of a global turnover being used for fines compared to just the UK activity seems excessive even it’s only 10%.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
surfzen21 Avatar
15 months ago
Fines collected should go to social programs and not tax cuts for companies.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)