Spotify boss urges UK to enact more durable regulation of tech gatekeepers

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Spotify boss Daniel Ek has urged the UK authorities to make use of its freedom exterior the EU to introduce new guidelines that would cut back the dominance of massive tech firms.

In an interview with the Monetary Occasions, Ek additionally mentioned that growth of synthetic intelligence can be “tremendous essential” however raised issues that rules made now would shortly turn out to be out of date due to the velocity at which the expertise was altering.

“It’s very a lot growing in actual time. AI capabilities six months in the past aren’t going to be the identical as they’re in a yr or two years from now,” he mentioned.

The Spotify co-founder and chief government has been within the UK to foyer ministers concerning the Digital Markets, Competitors and Customers Invoice, which is being thought-about in parliament.

The invoice will regulate competitors in digital markets, with new guidelines to create a extra degree taking part in area between giant tech teams and smaller start-ups. It’ll enable competitors authorities to set conduct necessities for giant teams to handle market energy and restrict the potential for hurt to shoppers and rivals.

Ek mentioned that “the UK might be nimble proper now and present management”, claiming that Spotify was being unfairly held again by digital platforms reminiscent of Apple due to their place as web gatekeepers. “The UK is now setting its personal agenda [after Brexit],” he mentioned.

He added: “I discover it insane that two firms [Apple and Google] basically management how over 4bn shoppers entry the web around the globe. Not solely are they dictating the foundations, in addition they compete immediately downstream with these suppliers.”

Ek mentioned the UK laws wanted to make sure that “if you wish to be the referee you possibly can’t even be the participant” within the digital market.

“If we’re going to go the DMCC regulation, it must have actual tooth,” he mentioned. He’s additionally calling on EU lawmakers to go related laws referred to as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and backed the Open App Markets Act within the US.

Because the dominant music streaming firm, Spotify has attracted criticism up to now for the way a lot artists are paid and the underexposure of lesser-known musicians.

Ek mentioned the talk was not about the price of utilizing the App Retailer however that Apple was so dominant for a big group of shoppers, functioning as a gatekeeper whereas additionally providing competing companies.

“Think about that this was a mall and actually half of the UK inhabitants is on this mall,” he mentioned, including that companies competing immediately with Apple have been pressured to pay fee on in-app gross sales. “That’s the place it turns into anti-competitive.”

“That is for each single developer,” he mentioned. “Increasingly more of those builders at the moment are discovering that Apple is a competitor.”

The EU has launched an antitrust case in opposition to Apple after Spotify made a grievance in opposition to it in 2019.

In response to an replace on the case in February this yr, Apple mentioned it could “proceed to work with the European Fee to know and reply to their issues, all of the whereas selling competitors and selection for European shoppers”.

Apple, which declined to answer Ek’s feedback, mentioned on the time: “The App Retailer has helped Spotify turn out to be the highest music streaming service throughout Europe and we hope the European Fee will finish its pursuit of a grievance that has no advantage.”

A authorities spokesperson mentioned the digital markets invoice would “unleash a brand new wave of innovation” in addition to give the Competitors and Markets Authority “focused new instruments to verify digital markets are as aggressive and revolutionary as potential”.


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