The Policy Download

The weekly summary of tech policy and politics from Taso Advisory
Issue 51 / 13 May 2022
 Feature story 

The Queen's Speech for tech (link)

This week the Government set out its legislative agenda for the next Parliamentary session, with a decent amount focussed on tech regulation.

The Online Safety Bill was carried over from the last session and confirmed to absolutely no one's surprise. This is going to be the most fun to watch in Parliament as a neutral: we'll see lots of debates on free speech and executive power. Long-time readers of The Policy Download know my view on the Bill. If you're a new reader, and you'd like our summary of the Bill, just get in touch.

The Government also confirmed that it will be bringing forward a Data Reform Bill as it looks to find a Brexit dividend by making the UK's data regime more "innovation friendly" (read: less privacy friendly). The data consultation's proposals were mostly sensible, but they all risk the UK's adequate status with the EU and none of them are worth that. 

If you're in the devices space, the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill will create new duties on cyber and design. This is mostly sensible and uncontroversial.

A new Financial Services and Markets Bill will, among other things, seek to support the growth and development of cryptocurrencies and other products in the UK. Buy the dip, they said.

Finally, the Government announced it had a Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, but that it wasn't going to bring it forward this session. That seems to me to be a very odd set of logic. We have identified a problem, developed what we think is a solution, and have decided not to use our solution. Apparently, parts of the Cabinet do not believe that the Conservative Party should regulate its way out of problems. Interesting take. 
 Other stories this week 

Top lawyer thinks the Online Safety Bill will limit free speech (link - £)

Gavin Millar QC has given a legal opinion to Index on Censorship stating that the Online Safety Bill will limit free speech and is incompatible with the Human Rights Act. The Government, obviously, disagrees. At a conference yesterday I heard a very senior tech exec express their belief that the Bill as drafted would lead to them over removing to limit their exposure. But of course, the Government knows better than the people actually running the businesses that will implement the legislation. 

NFTs are legal property in the UK (link)

The UK's High Court has ruled that non-fungible tokens are legal property, theoretically providing recourse for victims of scams related to NFTs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: decentralisation, meet The State. 

Government launches Future of Work Review (link)

The Prime Minister has commissioned Matt Warman MP (who was recently, until being fired by the same PM commissioning him now, the tech minister) to undertake a review of the future of work. This is broad, and it will include questions about the gig economy. This comes a few days after Coadec published their report on the gig economy, which we were pleased to support.
 Next week in Parliament 

On Thursday, Nadine Dorries will give evidence to the DCMS Select Committee on the work of her department. Expect lots on the Online Safety Bill and the lack of a digital competition bill this session.

Also on Thursday, the Fraud Act 2006 and Digital Fraud Committee will be taking evidence. 
What we've been reading and listening to

Tony Fadell: Build
 Our recent work 
Online Advertising Programme

The Government is still consulting on its Online Advertising Programme. We've been working with a number of clients to build their policy positions and draft responses to a once in a decade change of the regulatory regime for advertising. There's still time to submit until 1 June 2022. Get in touch if we can help. 

Coadec publishes report on the gig economy

Taso Advisory client Coadec, the policy voice for tech startups and scaleups, published their new report on the gig economy. We were pleased to support it, and even more pleased that the Government has announced a review of the future of work following the release. 

If you'd like a conversation about how Taso Advisory can support you, please just get in touch
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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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