The head of Britain’s antitrust watchdog said he plans to pick his battles with tech companies carefully relying on EU counterparts to take the lead where necessary.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive officer of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, told Bloomberg he might let other agencies lead the way on tech regulation because some merger probes are better suited to certain courts and jurisdictions than others.
“You cannot expect when there is a problem, every single agency to go after it, because we all have to make choices,” Coscelli said.
“There’s quite a lot of good stuff on tech that’s happening in Brussels that will have a direct positive benefit for UK consumers,” he added, noting that the EU’s case on Amazon’s marketplace should have wider benefits despite the CMA not pursuing a similar case.
It comes after the EU’s General Court fined Google £2bn in an anti-trust case hours after the UK’s supreme court voted down a privacy case which would have seen 4.4m Brits receive payouts totalling £3bn.
Europe’s campaign to regulate big tech is spearheaded by Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition policy lead, with the Commission’s efforts casting a shadow over Britain’s approach to regulation. Vestager is in the process of taking on Amazon Marketplace over concerns the site gives its own products preferential treatment over other retailers.
Meanwhile, the UK’s CMA today announced plans to go after Google over proposals to remove third party cookies from people’s browsers. The competition authority wants to ensure that Google does not restrict external companies from accessing user data in a way that harms competition in digital advertising markets.
In pursuit of a more joined up approach to tech regulation Coscelli will next week meet with the world’s top antitrust enforcers in London in order to discuss digital markets regulation. G-7 regulators are expected to discuss a cross-border framework for enforcing competition rules.