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Digital economy competition panel meets to discuss regulations

Experts on a new panel put together to review competition in the digital economy have met for the first time to discuss how to ensure the country has the right regulations in place

The government’s new panel, which aims to investigate how to ensure fair competition and that the UK remains a world leader in the digital economy, has held its first meeting.

The panel, which is chaired by Jason Furman, former US president Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor, is looking at the country’s competition regime in the digital economy, and how it affects consumers, productivity and the labour market. 

The panel’s investigation, aiming to conclude in early 2019, will look into a series of issues, including looking at tools and frameworks to ensure “effective competition in markets for data”.

The inaugural meeting was hosted by chancellor Philip Hammond, who said that people are “concerned that the big players could be accumulating too much power in our new digital world”.

“The work this panel is doing will help ensure we have the right regulations so that our digital markets are competitive and consumers are protected,” he said.

The panel will investigate how new companies can compete with the existing market, how to handle mergers between tech companies, the impact of a few big companies holding data, and the pros and cons of consolidation in the digital marketplace.

During the course of the review, the panel will meet with academia, businesses and representative groups, and interviews with these. It also includes a call for evidence, due to launch shortly, to form the basis of a report with recommendations for the government.

Panel chair, Jason Fuman, who is also a professor at Harvard University, said he is delighted to be leading the panel.

“We help to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of the global digital economy, and that consumers continue to benefit as innovative technologies develop and evolve,” he said.

Plans for the panel were first announced in August 2018, as the government published a paper on ensuring economic value from data.  

The paper said the review panel will also have wider remit “to consider the important future tools and requirements for effective competition in the digital economy”.

“This could potentially include the role of data portability, operability and common standards, for example, to reduce barriers to switching for consumers in non-regulated parts of the economy,” the paper said.

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