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Top British firms hit out at Google and Facebook for stifling competition online

Top British firms hit out at Google and Facebook for stifling competition online with crush or kill tactics

  • Leading British companies warn of the rising dominance of internet giants 
  • Firms including BT, Vodafone and John Lewis hit out at Google and Facebook
  • They accused the firms of ‘using aggressive tactics to subdue their competitors’

Some of Britain’s biggest companies have hit out at Google and Facebook for stifling competition on the internet and using their vast power to crush rivals.

Vodafone, BT, Barclays, Lloyds and John Lewis all issued stark warnings about the rising dominance of the internet giants in response to an official review of the online advertising market.

They accused Google and Facebook of using aggressive tactics to subdue their competitors as well as seeking to monopolise online markets by swallowing up rivals in a ‘killer acquisition’ strategy.

Google has increasingly launched services that in the past were only offered by the companies listed in its search results. For instance, one anonymous flight comparison website said Google had used its power over search pages to take users away from its site [File photo]

Several firms called for tougher competition laws to crack down on this ‘unscrupulous behaviour’.

The review by the Competition and Markets Authority regulator focused on digital advertising – a vital tool for companies that want to grow – in response to concerns that the market has become ‘distorted’.

Figures from telecoms watchdog Ofcom show Facebook and Google gobbled up £8.2 billion of the £13.4 billion spent on online advertising in 2018, while UK internet users spent more than 35 per cent of their time on websites owned by either Facebook or Google.

Vodafone said there was a ‘need to level the regulatory playing field’ for internet companies such as Facebook and Google. It added that there was a risk of ‘unfair discrimination by platforms towards their own products and services’.

Vodafone said there was a ‘need to level the regulatory playing field’ for internet companies such as Facebook and Google. It added that there was a risk of ‘unfair discrimination by platforms towards their own products and services’.

BT warned that the tech giants maintained this dominance by launching takeovers of competitors which looked like posing a threat.

‘There is a risk to competition if their [takeover] targets might have grown into rivals,’ BT said.

‘This loss of potential competition ultimately harms advertisers and users because it restricts the choice of platforms and limits the [advertisers’] ability to negotiate effectively.’

Barclays said that while banks are heavily regulated because they are so central to the economy, ‘the same analysis has not been conducted by regulators or Government regarding big tech’ – even though the internet giants have a major influence on everyday life for millions of users and businesses in Britain.

Vodafone said there was a ‘need to level the regulatory playing field’ for internet companies such as Facebook and Google.

It added that there was a risk of ‘unfair discrimination by platforms towards their own products and services’. 

Google has increasingly launched services that in the past were only offered by the companies listed in its search results.

For instance, one anonymous flight comparison website said Google had used its power over search pages to take users away from its site. 

‘We believe this has negative consequences for consumers, who are deprived of easy access to our services due to reduced visibility,’ the website said.

BT warned that the tech giants maintained this dominance by launching takeovers of competitors which looked like posing a threat. ‘There is a risk to competition if their [takeover] targets might have grown into rivals,’ BT said [File photo]

BT warned that the tech giants maintained this dominance by launching takeovers of competitors which looked like posing a threat. ‘There is a risk to competition if their [takeover] targets might have grown into rivals,’ BT said [File photo]

Channel 4 said the two firms effectively operated an ‘unregulated duopoly’. ‘The dominance is stifling competition,’ the media firm said. 

‘Television advertisers are competing at an inherent disadvantage to online advertisers due to the regulatory imbalance between the two sectors.

‘This is allowing bad practice and unscrupulous behaviour to take place and is putting consumers and advertisers at risk.’

In its response to the review, Facebook said: ‘It is wholly artificial to isolate Facebook and Google in a manner which overlooks the fact that they compete vigorously with each other and with other market players.’

A Google spokesman said: ‘We continue to work with the CMA to provide more information on how we operate and the value we provide consumers and industry in the UK.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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