Published in News

Big Tech mulls leaving the UK

by on14 August 2023

Too much post Brexit regulation

Big Tech is considering leaving the UK because they are being swamped with more regulation than they see in the EU.

Ironically, one of the reasons the British left the UK was because they felt the were being unfairly burdened with red tape. Now, left to their own devices, UK politicians will make a lot more pointless laws.

Many tech companies are increasingly fed up with UK regulation.  First up is the Online Safety Bill is due to pass in the autumn. Aimed at protecting children, it lays down strict rules around policing social media content, with high financial penalties and prison time for individual tech execs if the firms fail to comply.

One clause that has proved particularly controversial is a proposal that encrypted messages, which includes those sent on WhatsApp, can be read and handed over to law enforcement by the platforms they are sent on, if there is deemed to be a national security or child protection risk.

Currently messaging apps like WhatsApp, Proton and Signal, which offer this encryption, cannot see the content of these messages themselves. WhatsApp and Signal have both threatened to quit the UK market over this demand.

Then there is the  Digital Markets Bill is also making its way through Parliament. It proposes that the UK's competition watchdog selects large companies like Amazon and Microsoft, gives them rules to comply with and sets punishments if they don't.

Big Tech fears that this gives too much power to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which recently chose to block its acquisition of the video game giant Activision Blizzard when the rest of the world had given up caring.

Volish chief executive Brad Smith shouted that the European Union is a more attractive place to start a business than the United Kingdom.

The CMA has since re-opened negotiations with Microsoft. This is especially damning because the EU is also introducing strict rules in the same vein — but it is collectively a much larger and therefore more valuable market.

Also coming in the UK are amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act, which included tech firms getting Home Office approval for new security features before worldwide release.  This law hacked off the fruity cargo cult Apple so much that it threatened to remove Facetime and iMessage from the UK if they go through.

While no one expects the UK to be held to ransom by US tech giants, it is equally not doing anything to provide an alternative to those services.


Last modified on 14 August 2023
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Read more about: