I’ll rein in tech giants and protect free speech: Rishi Singh’s pledge on Britain’s digital future
- Cinq pledges to move forward through digital markets, competition and consumer bills.
- The bill aims to prevent big tech companies from exploiting consumers and competitors.
- The former chancellor also said he aims to repeal laws that ‘repress free speech’.
Rishi Singh has pledged to rein in the power of big tech firms and introduce key legislation to protect the digital economy.
The Tory leadership contender yesterday pledged to make the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill a parliamentary priority this autumn.
The bill would introduce tougher rules to prevent the world’s largest search engines and social media platforms from exploiting users and competitors.
It will also empower the Digital Markets Unit, a watchdog set up to chip away at the dominance of tech giants, particularly in digital advertising. That would include measures to ensure that tech firms paid news publishers a fair price for content, Mr Sink said.
The former chancellor also promised to honor the Tory manifesto pledge to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which he said ‘seeks to coerce the press and suppress freedom of expression’.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Rishi Shank leaves Ealing TV studios in west London after attending a TV debate on July 26.
The act, he said, would force newspapers to pay legal costs for both sides in defamation and privacy cases, regardless of the outcome — unless they join a state-run regulator. Don’t agree – will be struck off the statute books immediately. Before the next election.
Mr Sink made the pledges yesterday in a letter to Owen Meredith of the News Media Association, which represents local, regional and national publishers.
The incoming prime minister said he strongly supports the ‘vital’ newspaper industry and recognizes that its long-term sustainability cannot be taken for granted.
He added: ‘I support the development of digital industries, but believe that we will only get a thriving digital economy in the UK with properly functioning markets.
‘I am therefore delighted to confirm that if I am elected as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, I will take forward the Digital Market Promise legislation this autumn. Including measures to ensure fair terms between publishers and platforms.’
Announcing the bill in the Queen’s Speech in May, the government said it aimed to better protect Britons from online scams and rip-offs, such as fake reviews and subscription traps.
It will also empower DMU to rein in the dominance of tech giants like Google and Facebook – particularly in digital advertising, where it has a detrimental effect on high-quality journalism.
Sink said he would introduce legislation to empower the Digital Markets Unit to break the monopoly of tech companies and prevent them from exploiting consumers and competitors.
Under the bill, the DMU will be able to force online giants to comply with the code of conduct – on penalty of fines of up to 10 percent of their global turnover.
Mr Sink also pledged to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 – a Conservative party manifesto pledge in 2017 – ‘immediately’. Under the move, news publishers will be forced to pay the legal costs of both sides in defamation and privacy lawsuits whether they win or lose in court – as long as they sign up to the royal charter-backed press regulator. Don’t do it.
The Tories have previously said the law, which has been fiercely opposed by press groups and press freedom campaigners, undermined the ‘essential role of local newspapers in speaking truth to power’.
It is on the statute books but is yet to be operationalized.
A recent Queen’s Speech included plans for a media bill that would repeal the law.
Mr Sink wrote: ‘It is imperative that we withdraw this measure which seeks to suppress the press and freedom of expression before the next general election.’