The UK has hired Obama’s chief economic adviser to chair a panel examining competition in the technology sector.
Described by President Obama as “one of the most brilliant economic minds of his generation”, Professor Jason Furman will lead a team of experts for the government.
The panel he assembles will be analysing whether the growth of powerful new digital companies like Google and Facebook has come at the cost of smaller ones.
As the UK seeks to leave the European Union, the panel will assess what the proper place is for privacy regulations and questions about whether the whole of society is benefiting from technological progress.
The panel will run from September 2018 through to early 2019 before publishing a report of recommendation to the government.
Professor Furman’s appointment comes as the government publishes another report on the value of data, which claims it could be worth £60bn a year to the economy by 2020.
Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “Our tech sector is now worth over £116bn and a new digital job is being created in this country every 50 minutes.
“This is something to be proud of, but at the same time it is only right that we ask the big questions about how we ensure these new digital markets work for everyone.
“I am therefore pleased to appoint Professor Furman to lead this important work. His experience will be invaluable as we ensure that our market regulating institutions are fit for purpose in the digital age.”
Professor Jason Furman said: “While digital markets have produced significant consumer benefits, including in the UK, we need to fully understand how competition policy needs to adapt going forward.”
Competition policy has loomed large over American technology companies, especially when approached by regulators in the EU.
Google was fined €4.34bn (£3.8bn) by the EU in July for abusing its control of the Android operating system by forcing vendors to pre-install its apps.
Announcing the record fine, the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Google was in breach of competition law barring companies from exploiting their market dominance.
Google stated it plans to appeal against the decision, claiming “Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation, and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition.”
Addressing where the UK will find these balances will be a key focus for Professor Furman’s panel, who said: “Our focus needs to be on ensuring that consumers continue to benefit from these new technologies while maximising the innovative potential from the economy.
“I am pleased to lead this panel and look forward to bringing my experience to this important piece of work of international interest.”
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