The Policy Download

The weekly summary of tech policy and politics from Taso Advisory
Issue 53 / 27 May 2022
 Feature story 

Online Safety Bill Committee hosts first sessions (link)

The Online Safety Bill Committee hosted its first two blocks of sessions (17 evidence sessions in total!) on Tuesday and Thursday this week. The Committee heard from and quizzed people from across industry, trade associations and civil society on the Bill.

The Committee covered everything from the use of VPNs, to risks posed by smaller services, to freedom of expression. They realised, seemingly for the first time, that VPNs and encryption might make lots of what the Government is trying to achieve through this Bill impossible. 

The biggest takeaway, though, was the lack of willingness from the Government to hear the feedback. Despite tens (probably hundreds) of constructive suggestions from witnesses, there is seemingly no willingness to intention to bits of the Bill that obviously need fixing. Expect Report Stage in the Commons, and the whole of the Lords, to pick up issues that the Government has successfully whipped away for the moment. 
 Other stories this week 

Minister says Online Safety Bill will pose no risk to free speech (link - £)

Chris Philp, the Minister responsible for the Online Safety Bill, wrote an article for The Times explaining how the Bill that requires (yes it does) the removal of legal content will not infringe on free speech and expression. I guess that settles it, then. His boss, Nadine Dorries, gave a helpful summary of the Bill on TikTok. Look on her works, ye mighty tech policy people, and despair. 

Competition and Markets Authority investigates Google on ad tech (link)

The CMA is exploring whether Google has acted anti-competitively with its ad tech business. They are particularly interested in whether Google chose to limit the interoperability of its ad exchange with third-party publishers' servers, and whether the business used its dominance to illegally favour its own services over others. 

Information Commissioner's Office fines Clearview AI over £7.5m for data breach (link)

The ICO has handed out a chunky fine to Clearview AI for collecting and using the personal data of UK citizens without consent. This one feels like a slam dunk...
 Next week in Parliament 

Parliament is in recess, so nothing next week! 
What we've been reading and listening to

Tony Fadell: Build
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The Policy Download is written by Ben Greenstone and the team at Taso Advisory.

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Ben tweets at @ben_greenstone.
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