techUK Policy Pulse | Your weekly update on digital and tech policy

Happy belated Ada Lovelace Day! It was wonderful to see so many people engaging online and IRL – Ada’s work is growing in recognition year on year and she continues to be a role model for the current and next generation.

This week has been labelled as ‘hell week’ by some as we enter the crunch point for negotiations with the European Union. I personally thought it was just a label for my incredibly busy social calendar, but there you go! Whilst, Ireland is the main sticking point, it’s vital we don’t lose sight of other key issues at this stage such as citizens’ rights and what a future UK-EU trade deal could look like.

Away from the drama of Brexit, digital tax is back in the news after Pierre Moscovici said that a deal on a digital tax was “doable by Christmas”. The proposals are incredibly controversial and face an uphill struggle with Ireland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland all raising concerns. However, this statement may convince the Chancellor to take his foot off the pedal on pursuing a UK ‘digital services tax’ to instead focus on getting a deal through at EU level.

Back in the UK, plans were unveiled by the Canary Wharf group to create a new development, Wood Wharf, as a home for the tech and creative sectors. Helping to launch the new 23-acre site was our President Jacqueline de Rojas – who spoke of the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in tech.

On Thursday, doteveryone published their contribution to the internet regulation debate – Regulating for Responsible Technology. The headline recommendation calls for the creation of The Office for Responsible Technology which would act as a home for expertise to be drawn upon by other regulators, provide information to the public on the impacts of technologies and ensure the public can hold technologies to account for harms derived from their use and mediates unresolved disputes. This is a thoughtful contribution to the debate but one that still raises a number of questions that remain unanswered.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England used a speech on World Mental Health Day to call for a social media levy to help fund mental health services. There is no clear evidence on the impact of social media, positive or negative, on mental health and it is certainly the case the platforms help people suffering with their mental health build communities and find support networks. Only this week I attended the launch of a unique AR art exhibition which explored mental health building on the communities that exist on Tumblr.

Today, BEIS launched a consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting following the success of mandatory gender pay gap reporting in terms of increasing transparency and awareness. This would be a welcome step in helping companies to build more inclusive and equal workplaces.

techUK news and events

Last week, half of the policy team decamped to Geneva for the WTO Public Forum where we hosted a panel on the rise of intangibles and how technologies like 3D printing are changing manufacturing. To catch up with everything they got up to there, read their daily insights of the event here, here, and here.

On 15 October, techUK is hosting a panel exploring how Health & Social Care services can be transformed using 5G networks. Check out this fascinating event.

Our flagship event – Supercharging the Digital Economy, is also next week which is taking place in Manchester. Tickets are now very limited so to secure your place click here.

All the best,


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