The Policy Download

This is the twentieth 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. 
Excessive profits tax (link - £) - Following on from my rant on a proposed Online Sales Tax last week, the Government is apparently looking at an "excessive profits tax" for companies that have done well during the pandemic. Obviously the Government will need to raise money and / or spend less money post-pandemic. There are lots of legitimate ways to do this. Creating a retrospective tax liability for being too productive and too well placed to serve the needs of a population during a pandemic seems to be a strange way to do it. We don't hit Waitrose with a one-off tax at Christmas because they sell too many turkeys. Or GAME when they sell too many Playstation 5 units on release. This is all part of a widely held, and wrong, view that internet companies should be taxed on all fronts simply because they are internet companies. The Government needs to think about the world as it exists now and as it will exist, not about the world of Woolworths.    

Competition and content (link) - Jimmy Wales has warned that proposed online content regulation (like the DSA and online harms) could affect competition. As many others have pointed out, if you make rules for GAFAM you get GAFAM. It would be annoying for Facebook to do some of what is in these proposals, but they could do it. A tiny new business couldn't. Much like the GDPR, well intentioned efforts will hurt startups the most. And despite promises of "proportionality" from legislators and governments no one ever seems to be able to say what that means. 

A patchwork approach (link) - The CMA published an update on their Digital Markets Strategy, which focusses mostly on the establishment of the Digital Markets Unit. The thing it makes me think the most is that the Government is going to end up with patchwork digital regulation. Oliver Dowden has committed to publish an updated Digital Strategy. It looks like it will end up being a stitching together of the multiple individual pieces of work - online harms, digital taxation, competition - rather than a coherent piece of work. Sadly, that means it will probably be totally meaningless. 
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. 

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

Uber Technologies, Inc. / GPC Software Limited (Autocab) - Competition and Markets Authority (link) - opened 29/01/21, 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. 

The UK digital identity and attributes trust framework - DCMS (link) - opened 11/02/21, closing 11/03/21.

Algorithms, competition and consumer harm - Competition and Markets Authority (link) - opened 19/01/21, closing 16/03/21.

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.

Changes to the Electronic Communications Code - DCMS (link) - opened 27/01/21, closing 24/03/21. 
Next week

Parliament is in recess next week, so there is nothing on.

They'll be back on Monday 22nd February.
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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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