The Policy Download

This is the seventeenth 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. 
Algorithm and blues (link) - The Competition and Markets Authority launched a call for information on algorithms, competition and consumer harm. They also published a paper setting out their initial views. It's an interesting read, but it still isn't clear to me why we think "the algorithm" is the problem for much of the potential harm the CMA paper sets out. For instance: price personalisation. If we accept that this is a bad thing, it's not because there's an algorithm. It's because that's how people have chosen to price. The fact they've written an algorithm to do it for them doesn't seem to make much difference to me. Go to any professional services firm and ask them if they'd charge Facebook a higher fee than they'd charge the local pub. And I bet they don't have an algorithm... 

Ride jailing (link - £) - Thousands of London black cab drivers are taking Uber to court for allegedly operating illegally. Some big numbers being thrown around by the lawyers - the claim could seek well over half a billion pounds in damages. It comes with probably the worst marketing ever: 'BULit21', short for 'Black Cabs vs Uber 2021". (That must be enough to lose the case automatically right?)

Taxing questions - Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States of America on Wednesday. International work (led by the OECD) on digital services taxes has stalled, missing its initial deadline of end of 2020 in part because of President Trump's unwillingness to engage. Biden will be more willing to engage, but it's important to remember DSTs will hit American businesses the hardest. Biden won't sell them down the river. Simon Duke in The Times has an interesting piece on it here (£).  
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. 

NVIDIA / Arm merger inquiry - Competition and Markets Authority (link) - opened 06/01/21, closing 27/01/21.

Ads for in-game purchasing - Committee of Advertising Practice (link) - opened 05/11/20, closing 28/01/21.

Future UK-EU relations: trade in services - EU Services Sub-Committee (link) - opened 14/01/21, closing 05/02/21.

Digital trade and data - International Trade Committee (link) - opened 15/12/20, 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. 

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.
Next week

On Monday Lord Clement-Jones has a question on the SolarWinds cyber attack

On Tuesday the DCMS Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation is taking oral evidence from the Information Commissioner. We also have some General Committees on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill. Baroness Hoey has an oral question on legislation on TV license evasion (thank god we can make our own TV license rules now we're out of Europe!). 

And on Thursday Lord German has an oral question on the impact of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement on musicians and musical enterprises seeking to work and tour in the EU. Baroness Barran will be taking the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill through its third reading. The COVID-19 Committee will be taking evidence on living online. We also have more General Committees on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill.
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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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