What is the DMU (Digital Markets Unit)?

The DMU is a new UK Government regulatory body that has been established under the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Essentially, the function of the DMU will be to help promote better competition in the UK digital markets. It will also protect UK consumers, as well as the treasury from unfair practices.  

As discussed in the article on Government procurement, one of the key tenents of the CMA is fair competition.

In the modern world, technology provides great benefits to individuals and organisations.

However, it is well known that the bulk of technological advancements are dominated by a few large firms. The DMU will regulate these powerful companies and produce legislation to promote fair competition.

For example, recently the CMA has been involved in looking at the competitive advantage companies like Google and Facebook have in the UK digital advertising economy.

In an interview, Dr Andrea Coscelli, the chief executive of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said:

When companies have too much economic power, that creates a number of distortions, first for competitors, secondly for consumers, and at some level potentially in terms of the political process as well, in some cases.

We, in general terms, like to see markets more competitive, with more players, with more diversity of players, because we think that delivers better outcomes.

City AM

Is the DMU Active?

As of October 2021, the DMU is undergoing consultation to formulate the controls that they will be able to exercise. They will also be looking at the legislation that will need to be implemented for it to be effective.

This consultation includes an analysis of UK and worldwide digital markets, products and businesses. Also, the DMU is required to onboard the correct professionals to make up the body as well as liaise with academics, industry leaders and the Digital Markets Taskforce.

What will fall under the DMU’s Remit?

It is understood at this time the DMU will be responsible for:

  • Oversight of a predetermined set of businesses that match certain criteria – thought to be based on size and market share in the industry.
  • Codes of conduct in the digital industry.
  • Acquisition and merger controls.
  • Promotion of fair and open competition practices.

The DMU at this time is working with SME’s, investors, and many other stakeholders that are involved in relevant market dynamics that will shape the regulatory approach.