digital marketing, affiliate marketing, content marketing, digital markets

What’s included in the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill?

The UK government is currently reviewing a bill that would see a number of important changes to digital marketing put in place. The regulations proposed in the bill cover everything from influencer culture to tech giants’ practices. It also outlines that the base country of the organisation doesn’t matter and all will be upheld to this standard. This is all in an attempt to create a fairer digital market for the consumer and smaller tech businesses.

As the government bill itself puts it: “A Bill to provide for the regulation of competition in digital markets; to amend the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002 and to make other provision about competition law; to make provision relating to the protection of consumer rights and to confer further such rights; and for connected purposes.”

In the making since 2021, as of writing the Bill is going through its 2nd reading in the House of Commons and still has to pass through the House of Lords.

If this Bill were to go through, however, the industry is likely to see a shakeup akin to the GDPR of 2016. Every website and brand will be affected in some way, with so many regulations introduced in the Bill.

So, what are these regulations? And how do they affect the different aspects of digital marketing? Take a look at our guide to the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.

What will affect affiliates? Reviews

The big issue for affiliates and influencers is the concept of reviews. According to the BBC, the bill “bans people receiving money or free goods for writing glowing reviews.”

As much as we would like to think all our favourite influencers are being honest about how much they love the products they are peddling, that is rarely the case. Who really gasps when they open a makeup product?

However, this point is very vague. Affiliate bloggers will have to wait until the Bill passes through the House of Commons before getting details of how they are to avoid getting fined for a dishonest review and how the UK government intends to determine what is an honest or dishonest review.

What will affect small tech? Market dominance

It’s no secret that there are basically the big five tech companies (Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft) that make up the sun of the tech industry, and the rest simply orbit around them trying to survive. It doesn’t make for a very fair playing field, which has repercussions for other tech companies and the consumer. Therefore, this Bill aims to level the digital markets playing field at least a little with various regulations.

The statement from the Department for Business and Trade says: “[The Bill] also establish new, faster tools to address the unique barriers to competition in digital markets, allowing the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to proactively drive more dynamic markets and prevent harmful practices such as making it difficult to switch between operating systems.”

What will affect tech giants? App stores

One particular way the Bill aims to level things is with the sharing of App stores. Apple’s app store, for example, is notoriously limited. You have to pay a steep price to be featured on there, eating into any profits an app startup might have, and be under the strict review of Apple’s standards. More often than not this means rejecting apps that might offer a more affordable alternative to big names like Adobe, for example.

Sticking with Apple as the example, the iPhone company might be forced to allow iPhone and iPad users to download apps from other sources, like Google Play or Android, forcing search engines to share data.

What will affect the consumer? “Forgetting” subscriptions

Chapter 2 of Part 4 says: “This chapter imposes duties on traders in relation to subscription contracts, provides rights for consumers if those duties are breached and provide rights for consumers to cancel subscription contracts during cooling off periods.”

Namely, number 250 of the Bill addresses reminder notices, where customers are to be contacted when their free trial is up so that they have ample time to cancel their subscription before the first payment is taken, or “at least 3 working days before the last cancellation date” but “not more than 5 working days before the last cancellation date” if they wish.

The statement from the Department for Business and Trade says: “The Bill will also support consumers through new and improved rights to deal with bad business practices such as subscription traps. This includes better information up front as well as easier exiting and earlier cancellation rights.”

Businesses are not likely to like that, since it could put a dent in profits due to the sheer forgetfulness of consumers.

If you are interested in more affiliate and social media marketing insights, take a look at our blog for all the latest news and advice. Or for a more personalised approach, book a free call with a member of our team.

Or, for the very best advice from industry peers, register to join us for our ELEVATE Summit in July. Elevate aims to bring you the latest affiliate, performance, and partner marketing insights from across the globe and it’s all available to stream from our website.

Related Posts

Get the latest affiliate news to your inbox

Join 1000’s of digital marketers who want to keep up to date with Affiliate Marketing trends across all verticals. Sign up to our weekly Newsletter and stay updated with all our industry news, insights and interviews.

Partner Directory