Tech features in a solid seven of the 38 bills put forward in the UK government’s legislative programme for the next parliamentary session, unveiled in the Queen’s Speech delivered by Prince Charles today.
The main theme is the government seeking Brexit benefits by loosening regulations enforced by the EU, reducing requirements and opening up the possibility of more rapid advances in areas such as cryptocurrencies and implementing scientific research. The specifics:
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is being replaced with the Data Reform Bill, which aims to reduce the former’s red tape while still providing “gold standard” data protection for consumers.
The Media Bill aims to strengthen public service broadcasting’s position online and put tighter controls on streaming services.
The Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill intends to protect consumers from cyber attacks by ensuring that smart devices are more secure. It also aims to promote the expansion of broadband services.
The Financial Services and Markets Bill would harness “the opportunities of innovative technologies in financial services, including supporting the safe adoption of cryptocurrencies and resilient outsourcing to technology providers”.
The Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill will “remove unnecessary barriers inherited from the EU” in order to promote agri-food research and innovation, notably gene editing of crops.
The Online Safety Bill aims to tackle online fraud and scams, serious illegal content and cyberflashing. It intends to protect the most vulnerable, including children, and would introduce a duty of care for social media companies like Facebook.
While the last-named is one area where the government is set to take on Big Tech, it has diverged from the EU by holding back on another line of attack in the shape of the Draft Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill. As a draft, the move to put a new tech regulator on a statutory footing will not become law until the 2023-24 parliamentary session at the earliest, a delay the consumer watchdog Which? described as “disappointing”.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Peloton and Palantir plummet
Peloton shares fell as much as 20 per cent after the connected fitness company reported far higher quarterly losses than expected and warned it was “thinly capitalised” for a business of its scale. The New York-based maker of exercise bikes and treadmills reported a quarterly net loss of $757mn — almost triple the $267mn loss analysts had expected. Palantir shares fell 21 per cent on Monday after the data analytics company reported another loss and failed to set a date for turning profitable.
2. Nintendo and Sony talk stock-splits and buybacks
Nintendo has announced a 10-for-one stock split to address longtime investor calls to improve corporate governance at the Kyoto-based games maker. It reported a 29 per cent profit decline as chip shortages hit console production. Sony lowered its annual forecast for sales of its PlayStation 5 to 18mn from an initial target of 22.6mn for the same reason. It said it would buy back ¥200bn ($1.5bn) of its shares.
3. Grindr to go public in Spac deal
The gay dating app plans to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company that would give it an implied valuation of $2.1bn. Grindr will receive $384mn in proceeds as part of the transaction with Tiga Acquisition, a Spac set up by Ashish Gupta in 2020.
4. Ukraine blunts Russian cyber attacks
A security conference has been told Russia’s ability to unleash devastating cyber attacks on Ukraine’s military and civilian infrastructure may have been overblown, with Ukrainian defences proving to be resilient against some of the country’s most sophisticated assaults. “Perhaps the concept of a ‘cyber war’ was overhyped,” said Jeremy Fleming, head of Britain’s signals intelligence agency GCHQ.
5. Yuga Labs looks to the Otherside
The start-up behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, the non-fungible token collection of digital art snapped up for millions of dollars by celebrities and crypto-enthusiasts, has an ambitious new idea: selling plots of virtual land in its own metaverse, an alternative to platforms being built by Silicon Valley companies such as Meta.
Tech tools — No more passwords
Apple, Google and Microsoft have said they will expand support for a common passwordless sign-in standard created by the FIDO Alliance, a coalition of more than 250 companies, and the World Wide Web Consortium. Google explains signing in to apps and websites will be as easy as unlocking your phone. Hannah Murphy looked at the move to kill passwords in this analysis.