CMA’s Hayter Says UK’s Tech Law Enforcement Is ‘Out of Date’

(Bloomberg) -- A senior director at the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said enforcement of the country’s technology rules takes too long and is reliant on out-of-date principles.

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Will Hayter, who oversees tech at the antitrust watchdog, said at the Bloomberg Technology Summit in London on Wednesday that “traditional” competition tools “were all set up before digital was a thing.”

Enforcement has been “backward-looking” and “narrowly targeted to a specific issue,” and it’s been “quite difficult to design remedies that will actually be effective in the market,” he said.

The CMA is toughening up its stance with the newly set up Digital Markets Unit, which will be able to enforce a code of conduct and potentially suspend, block and reverse decisions made by tech giants. The DMU can currently only operate in shadow form as it awaits legislative powers from the government.

“What’s needed is a bit of a shift to be able to set some of the rules up front in a frankly more collaborative way with the companies concerned than can really work in our enforcement framework,” Hayter said. This could help competition authorities “get better results more quickly,” he added.

Read more: Big Tech’s UK Antitrust Cop Steps Down With Job Not Quite Done

The European Commission as well will soon have new powers to enforce so-called “gatekeeper” companies such as Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc. from self-preferencing their own products, forcing them to open up their app stores in the process.

Hayter pointed to the EU’s 2011 Google shopping case, which has still not been settled. “I don’t think anyone in that case” is happy, he said, whether it’s the complainants, competition authorities or even Google, since it’s been such a “long, drawn out process.”

Read next: The EU Passed New Tech Rules. That Was the Easy Part

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