The Competition and Markets Authority's investigation into Facebook's purchase of Giphy has provisionally found that competition will be negatively affected and has suggested that the only remedy is for Facebook to sell Giphy.
This hinges on the possibility that Facebook would deny other social media platforms access to their GIFs (really). It also considers the fact that Giphy were experimenting with display advertising in the US and were thinking about expanding to the UK. The CMA considers this may have been a challenger to Facebook's advertising. I find this a remarkable assessment: Giphy lets you use funny moving images, Facebook, along with Google, accounts for 80% of digital advertising spend in the UK. Do the CMA really think Giphy were going to challenge that?
This is all a part of an increasingly punchy CMA, bolstered by the soon-to-be-statutory Digital Markets Unit. This will be a regulator within a regulator, tasked with making sure the digital economy is competitive. Lots of people (me included) would argue this kind of stuff makes the UK less competitive.
Remarkably, Giphy's selection of "competition" GIFs is very poor.
Gopuff, an American super-quick grocery delivery business, has bought Dija, a British business doing the same. Looking forward to the DMU cracking down on what is clearly a lessening of competition in me getting a bar of Dairy Milk in 10 minutes thanks to an app on my phone.
Lawmakers in the US introduced the Open App Markets Act yesterday. It looks to allow sideloading and a greater diversity of app stores. (This is a very bad idea: people are not generally speaking CISOs and consumers benefit from the walled gardens Apple and Google have created.) This is going to be a big fight and Epic will certainly get involved, if they aren't already. It will be interesting to see how this plays with wider work on digital competition in the EU and the UK.
Entain, the gambling company that owns brands like Ladbrokes, has bought an esports betting business. In lots of ways this makes perfect sense, but my thoughts go out to video games businesses that will have this (wrongly) thrown at them in the loot box debate.
Consultations to note
Online safety and online harms: DCMS Sub-committee on Online Harms and Misinformation (link) - opened 27/09/21, closing 03/09/21.
Digital identity and attributes consultation: DCMS (link) - opened 19/07/21, closing 13/09/21.
Draft Online Safety Bill: Draft Online Safety Bill Joint Committee (link) - opened 29/07/21, closing 16/09/21.
UK Prospectus Regime: HM Treasury (link) - opened 01/07/21, closing 24/09/21.
A new pro-competition regime for digital markets: DCMS (link) - opened 20/07/21, closing 01/10/21.
Reporting rules for digital platforms: HMRC (link) - opened 30/07/21, closing 22/10/21.
Enterprise Management Incentives: HM Treasury (link) - opened 03/03/21.
Next week in Parliament
Nothing until the 6th September because we are on recess.
My recent work
Spending Review preparation
The Government is beginning to prepare for a Spending Review that will take place at the end of this year. That will set out the Government's spending envelope for (probably) the next three years. Because of that, it sets the priorities and programmes the Government will run. We're working with clients to make their cases to relevant departments and the Treasury. Get in touch if you need help.
COP26 is three months away and, despite likely restrictions, it remains a great opportunity for tech companies that are solving the climate crisis to engage. Taso Advisory has been working with clients in this space to prepare to make the most of COP26. Think we can help? Get in touch.
Online Safety Bill messaging
Taso Advisory ran an internal session with a large tech company, supporting them on their messaging around the Online Safety Bill. If you think we can help you as you engage with the biggest bit of tech policy in the UK, get in touch.
If you'd like a conversation about how either Taso Advisory or Greenstone Research can support you, please just get in touch.
Did you like this issue of The Policy Download?
Why not subscribe to receive it again and share it with your friends and colleagues.
Ben is the managing director of Taso Advisory, a public policy consultancy, and the director of Greenstone Research, a subscription policy research service. Before this, Ben was an adviser to UK government ministers, including two ministers with responsibility for digital and the creative industries.