The Policy Download

This is the nineteenth 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. 
High (street) and dry (link) - After Amazon's accounts showed a big boost to its UK retail business there's another (yes, I know) conversation about the business rates Amazon pays compared to traditional high street retailers. The typical charge is that online retail is killing the high street. Actually, what's killing the high street is that it is a less good customer experience. The high street - or more accurately, some shops on the high street - is dying because consumers prefer to use online retail. That isn't to say business rates aren't a bad tax: they are and should be replaced. There is talk about an online sales tax, but that is misguided. M&S sells online and in store. What if I order online and collect in store? Tinkering around the edges won't give us a tax system that feels "fair". 

Easy TIGRR (link) - The Prime Minister has formed the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (catchy name) to look at ways to "drive innovation and competitiveness". You can almost set your watch by Government announcing bonfires of red tape that end up as damp kindling. Anyway, if TIGRR is reading it's worth thinking about: a) not putting a huge regulatory burden on startups via the Online Safety Bill; b) not putting a slightly less huge regulatory burden on startups via the Age Appropriate Design Code; c) not making it harder to exit a business via the National Security & Investment Bill and; d) not penalising entrepreneurs via a mooted rise in the rate of Capital Gains Tax. And breathe. 

Tough gig (link) - In the US, Amazon agreed to pay $61.7m to settle with the Federal Trade Commission on charges of withholding tips from some drivers. The FTC said this was a signal it was looking closely at the gig economy. There is going to be a big regulatory realignment on the rules of work and the gig economy. And no, the answer isn't banning zero hour contracts Ed.  
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. 

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

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

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. 

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

A very quiet week next week. 

On Tuesday the COVID-19 Committee will be taking evidence on living online. The Communications and Digital Committee will be taking evidence on freedom of expression online

Also on Tuesday I'll be speaking at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital 5 at 9.30am. The session is on all things politics, policy and regulation for video games (what else?). You can sign up here.

On Wednesday the DCMS Committee will be taking evidence on the economics of music streaming

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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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