The Policy Download is back! A new department, network fees, VLOPs and more.
The Policy Download
A monthly summary of tech policy and politics 28 February 2023
UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology emerges from Rishi reshuffle
A new UK Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has been created in the wake of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s cabinet reshuffle.
The emergence of DSIT, which is being headed by former Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan, has been broadly seen as a positive development by the tech sector. Bringing together the digital brief from the former Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with the science and innovation policy brief from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been seen as a sensible move. We believe it will make engaging with the Government easier for the tech sector, and will support better policy making.
There are, though, questions about how much the Department can practically achieve in the immediate term. Despite the long term thinking behind DSIT’s creation, its initial short term priorities are long running policy issues like the Online Safety Bill. While the Government has ambitious ideas for the Department's future, how much of that will be achieved ahead of a General Election remains to be seen. The mundane reality of an office move and IT migration will get in the way of more important work.
Overall, DSIT is a step in the right direction for science and technology policy. It will take serious focus from both political and official leadership to deliver in the face of operational blockers.
UK competition regulator provisionally finds Microsoft / Activision Blizzard deal could lead to "substantial lessening of competition" (link)
The Competition and Markets Authority has put Microsoft’s hopes of acquiring Activision Blizzard on the rocks after it initially found the deal could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the console and cloud gaming markets in the UK. The CMA’s provisional remedies, which include divesting major business segments, are unlikely to appeal to Microsoft. Alongside previous CMA work on Facebook / Giphy, Crowdcube / Seedrs and Amazon / Deliveroo, it is a helpful indicator of the UK’s post-Brexit approach to digital competition under new CMA boss Sarah Cardell.
Very Large Online Platforms set for tougher regulation in EU (link)
Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) who have declared that they have more than 45m users have four months to comply with the Digital Services Act in the EU. VLOPs will have to conduct risk management exercises, deeper audits, adopt a code of conduct and more to prevent enforcement action.
EU launches consultation on network use and "fair share" (link)
Following major pressure from the big telcos, the European Commission has launched an exploratory consultation on the future of the European electronic communications sector and its infrastructure, focusing on network usage fees. The consultation explores twhere tech companies should subsidise network costs and pay a "fair share". Expect a bitter battle to be fought.
UK Government sets out plan to regulate crypto (link)
The Treasury has launched a consultation and call for evidence in regards to “robust” regulation of cryptoassets, with the aim of providing consumers and businesses confidence around their creation, sale and trading.
In a similar vein, the Treasury and the Bank of England are consulting on creating a digital pound (a central bank digital currency or CBDC).
UK Government rethinks copyright exemption for AI (link)
The Government has backed away from a copyright exemption for text and data mining purposes. This follows concern and criticism from the Creative Industries about possible impact on their sectors. It will slow down AI progress in the UK - no ChatGB on the horizon.
Keep up with Taso Advisory
The latest episode of the Taso Tech Talks podcast focused on the Online Safety Bill, exploring both how the bill has changed since the start of the year and its possible impact on adults and children.
Listen to Taso Advisory's Lulu Freemont discuss these issues, and more, with Harry Eccles-Williams of Mishcon De Reya and Vicki Shotbolt of Parent Zone here.
This month we’ve been presenting to our clients’ senior leadership teams on the UK and EU’s approach to regulating AI and what it means for their businesses. If you’d like to arrange for a briefing, pleaseget in touch.
Our social media
You can also keep up with Taso Advisory on social media. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular updates.
Did you like this issue of The Policy Download?
If you're not already subscribed, or this was forwarded to you, sign up here.