Watch­dog pre­pares for tech giants in­quiry

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Front page - By Han­nah Boland

THE UK’S com­pe­ti­tion watch­dog could start ini­tial work on its in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the ac­tions of US on­line giants by the end of this year, rais­ing the prospect of fur­ther penal­ties for Big Tech on top of ma­jor Eu­ro­pean fines.

Sources fa­mil­iar with the sit­u­a­tion said the Com­pe­ti­tion & Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (CMA) was plan­ning pre­lim­i­nary work within the next cou­ple of months to pre­pare for a pos­si­ble full in­ves­ti­ga­tion shortly af­ter the UK leaves the EU at the end of March.

The CMA had been pre­cluded from launch­ing par­al­lel in­ves­ti­ga­tions to those be­ing con­ducted by the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion, such as those into Google and Ama­zon, but af­ter Brexit is likely to se­cure new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Com­pe­ti­tion lawyers be­lieve the CMA is “ob­vi­ously think­ing very care­fully” about how it will po­lice tech com­pa­nies in fu­ture.

Speak­ing at a House of Lords com­mit­tee last week, CMA chief exec- utive An­drea Coscelli said the UK au­thor­ity was “fo­cus­ing on na­tional cases, and cases against Google and Ama­zon are done in Brus­sels”.

“This is now likely to change post-brexit. It might change in the next few months, or a lit­tle bit later.”

The Trea­sury awarded the watch­dog an ad­di­tional £23.6m for 2017-18 on top of its £68.7m an­nual bud­get, recog­nis­ing the scale of work it will have to take on.

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