Many in the UK may be counting the cost of Brexit but one tech industry group claims Britain could become a “data haven” for online companies after it leaves Europe if Brussels goes too far in clamping down on US giants.
While some could see that as a positive, Josh Kallmer, head of global policy at the US-based Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), sees it as a stick to beat Brussels with.
He reckons the UK could “become a more desirable option” after Brexit, in a warning to Brussels that attempts to rein in online giants such as Google and Facebook could allow Britain to welcome them with open arms.
“There could be directions that the UK goes that are more positive for tech, not just for entrepreneurship in London, but also for the ability of global tech firms to do business here and engage with the rest of the world,” he said.
The European Commission, which plans to create a single digital market for online services, has become concerned over the growing power of US technology giants, and fears that European start-ups are being squeezed out.
It is considering whether to introduce laws for online platforms such as Facebook and Amazon to control how they operate in Europe. The ITI, whose members include Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, has urged the EU to take a “non-discriminatory approach” and to carefully consider and new laws.
“If the commmission decided to take a heavy-handed approach to platforms, one could imagine that the UK would take a different approach,” he said. “For some companies, access to the single market is the most important consideration – even though there are more significant regulatory restrictions.
“For others it could be their markets are more global, and [they want to do] their business from a jurisdiction that has fewer regulatory restrictions and fewer limitations on what they can sell to the rest of the world. So the UK becomes a more desirable option.”
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