The Policy Download

This is the sixteenth issue of The Policy Download. It goes out weekly on a Friday and sums up the interesting and important things in digital and creative industries policy and politics. Mostly it'll focus on the UK, but sometimes I look further afield.

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Interesting things this week
Every week I'll include a few pieces of news I found particularly interesting from the week with some analysis. 
Funeral Parler (link) - Parler, the social network particularly favoured by Trump supporters, might be dead. Following the President of the United States inciting and supporting domestic terrorism (absolutely wild sentence) the major social media platforms suspended or banned the President's accounts. So lots of people, either because they were also banned or because they wanted to make a point, went to Parler. Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores and AWS also booted them off. This is a *much* bigger thing than Trump being kicked off some social media sites. The sites are private spaces that look public, the app stores and AWS (and peers) are infrastructure. Interesting to think about what this means for the UK's online harms framework and proposed ISP blocking. 

Incoming Telegram (link - £) - Parler isn't the only place the people who have been (reasonably) kicked off other services have gone. A load of people have gone to Telegram from Whatsapp. Telegram are reportedly experiencing a massive increase in bad, and illegal, content. It sounds like Telegram are trying to deal with this. But, and I will repeat this every week if I need to, life finds a way... to be totally awful and horrible if it wants to be. You can't regulate away some people wanting to do bad things.  

Freedom of tweet - It has been a horrible week to be on Twitter, mostly because there have been a load of absolute morons claiming that Twitter banning Trump was an attack on free speech. Twitter is not a public space, it's a private space that lots of the public use. The First Amendment is about Government infringement of freedom of speech, not getting banned from Twitter. And, if you're in the UK complaining about Twitter attacking freedom of speech just remember that we don't have a First Amendment! 

(Cyber) Punk'd (link) - A really interesting write up of Cyberpunk from The Economist's Charlemagne, but also the often overlooked video games industry. H/t to Andrew Bennett for flagging this one. A reminder that a) the video games industry is really important and b) that Greenstone Research has an excellent research report on the UK games industry and public policy. I might even give you a discount on it. 
Consultations to note
Every week I'll include a rolling list of ongoing consultations and inquiries that you, your organisation or your clients might be interested in. 

Freedom of expression online - Communications and Digital Committee (link) - opened 16/11/20, closing 15/01/21 (today!). 

NVIDIA / Arm merger inquiry - Competition and Markets Authority (link) - opened 06/01/21, closing 27/01/21.

Ads for in-game purchasing - Committee of Advertising Practice (link) - opened 05/11/20, closing 28/01/21.

Digital trade and data - International Trade Committee (link) - opened 15/12/20, closing 12/02/21. 

Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt: enforcement - DHSC (link) - opened 28/12/20, closing 22/02/21.

The renewal of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Multiplex Licences expiring in 2022 and 2026 - DCMS (link) - opened 18/12/20, closing 26/02/21. 

VAT and the sharing economy - HM Treasury (link) - opened 09/12/20, closing 03/03/21. 

Genetic technologies regulation - DEFRA (link) - opened 07/01/21, closing 17/03/21.

UK regulatory approach to cryptoassets and stablecoins - HM Treasury (link) - opened 07/01/21, closing 21/03/21.
Next week

On Monday we have oral questions for the Department for Education. When Williamson isn't getting eaten alive for not giving children enough to eat to stay alive, you can expect some questions about access to laptops and internet for remote education (tech is a divider, as well as a leveller!). The National Security Strategy (Joint Committee) will be taking evidence from Ciaran Martin, the former chief of the National Cyber Security Strategy. Lord Wallace has an oral question on the role of the BBC in their international soft power strategy

On Tuesday we have General Committees on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill. The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee will take evidence on data transparency and accountability during Covid-19. The DCMS Select Committee will take evidence on the economics of music streaming. The COVID-19 Committee will take evidence on living online: the long-term impact on wellbeing and the Communications and Digital Committee will take evidence on freedom of expression online

On Wednesday Darren Jones has a Ten Minute Rule Motion on internet access

And on Thursday more General Committees on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill.
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The author
Ben Greenstone is the author of The Policy Download. During the day, Ben is a director at Taso Advisory, a public policy consultancy, and Greenstone Research, a subscription research service. Before this, Ben was an adviser to UK government ministers, including two ministers with responsibility for digital and the creative industries. You can get in touch with Ben at or, depending on what you're after. Ben tweets at @ben_greenstone.
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