UK to take on US tech giants like Facebook – despite warnings from billionaire boss Mark Zuckerberg

BRITAIN'S competition watchdog wants to crack down even harder on US tech giants.

The call for greater powers to punish rogue Silicon Valley firms comes despite a warning by Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to back down.

Mega-tech companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook (which owns Instagram and WhatsApp) all operate in the UK – but are headquartered in the US.

That makes it tricky to penalise American tech firms for misbehaviour.

Now the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) wants to create specific rules catered to individual firms.

And it wants the power to penalise companies that disobey.

"The UK needs new powers and a new approach," said CMA chief Andrea Coscelli.

"In short, we need a modern regulatory regime that can enable innovation to thrive, while taking swift action to prevent problems."

Part of the plan involves creating a Digital Markets Unit that will create the new rules – as well as acting as a watchdog for compliance.

And the hope is that this unit will be able to fine tech firms up to 10% of the their global turnover for failing to comply.

Rules would be related to anti-competitive behaviour, which is a common charge against the biggest US tech firms.

These mega-giants turn over tens of billions of dollars a year, so a 10% fine would be a hefty deterrent.

It's expected that this new unit will start working in April.

But it will be largely toothless unless MPs vote to grand the body powers, which could take years.

It comes after private warnings from billionaire Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to the UK.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism recently obtained Freedom of Information request minutes for a 2018 meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and then Secretary of State Matt Hancock.

During the meeting, Zuckerberg accused the UK of having an "anti-tech government".

He also threatened to pull some Facebook investment from the UK.

Zuckerberg warned that Britain was an "obvious" choice for investment, but that Facebook was "considering looking elsewhere".

After the meeting, Facebook went on to lease a large office space in London's King's Cross.

In a statement this week, Facebook said: "Facebook has long said we need new regulations to set high standards across the internet.

"In fact last year Mark Zuckerberg called on governments to establish new rules around harmful content, privacy, data portability, and election integrity.

"The UK is our largest engineering hub outside of the US and just this year we created 1,000 new roles in the country."

In other tech news, check out our review of the impressive iPhone 12 Pro.

Take a look at our rolling PS5 live coverage.

And find out where you might be able to get a PS5 before Christmas.

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