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24 January 2019

Davos: Hammond Spells Out UK Response To Digital Marketplace Challenges  

Chancellor Philip Hammond will brief the international community on the UK’s response to the challenges of the digital marketplace at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

A press release with details of the Chancellor’s speech to global economic leaders in Davos today spells out the UK Government’s activity such as the introduction of a new digital services tax and the launch of the Furman review into competition in the digital economy.  

The Chancellor’s speech comes in the week that Google was fined €50 million by France’s data protection office CNIL under GDPR for "lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization."

In a leader, The Times said: “The €50 million penalty is a mere rounding error for the search engine, which has grown spectacularly rich by delving into our digital souls. Yet Google could suffer if regulators demand changes to its business model.

“If, for instance, it was forced to disclose its data collection methods more explicitly before obtaining users’ consent, its ability to build personalised profiles would be heavily diminished, as would its value to advertisers.”

Separately, Facebook has this week apologised after it emerged that a girl who took her own life had viewed graphic images about suicide on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

In an article this week, the FT questioned whether the “drumbeat of scandal” surrounding the tech giants would mean that 2019 is the year that the tech giants are “final brought to heel by the regulators and forced to change their ways.”

The paper reported that the tech giants had “launched a massive campaign” to try and water down new privacy laws set to come into effect in California in 2020 which would force platform-technology platforms to disclose clearly how they use consumer data.   

“There are some academics and critics who believe the disproportionate profit share taken by these companies over the past two decades relative to the benefits received by consumers can be quantified. After all, carbon credits represent a discreet form of value; why not data? Economists are busy crunching numbers on that — and if a price can be put on data, all bets are off for Big Tech’s current business model,” the paper reported.

In a separate piece, the paper said that recent attacks on traditional media had given the industry a keen sense of mission and led to a renewed engagement with and interest in news from traditional outlets, as mistrust in the social networks deepens.

The paper said: “While the early political attacks on the media sparked a defensive, introspective mood, they now appear to be galvanising the industry into more confident action. Consumer support has risen accordingly.

“Over the past year publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and, indeed, the Financial Times have seen sharp rises in online subscriptions and circulation. There has been an explosion of experimentation with new forms of journalism, such as podcasts, for example.

“Indeed, if you were to judge the state of the media world from its wave of investigations, industry experimentation and the wider public consumption of content, some might argue that this is actually the “best of times” to be a journalist. The sense of mission has rarely been more intense.”