California’s recent regulation to address perceived imbalances in the gig economy (known as AB5) has set tongues wagging about the future of companies like Uber and Lyft. Given Europe’s reputation for being tough on tech giants, is a similar intervention on this side of the Atlantic now inevitable?
The spread of tiny chips into more and more everyday items promises a cumulative leap in convenience for consumers and productivity for businesses. Yet as ever more consumer devices become hooked up to the internet and the line between hardware and software blurs, the question of consumer protection and the need for new consumer regulations will receive greater attention.
The European Union is working on a new regulatory framework for artificial intelligence that seeks to ensure better consumer protection, while enhancing Europe’s technological competitiveness. The risk is for it to become but a duplication of already-existing practices and regulations.
As Europe begins the year in a state of relative stability with the EU Commission firmly in place as well as new governments in the UK and Spain, all eyes are on how policymakers will now respond to popular demand for changes to our liberal order. The tech sector could be in for a rough ride.
Once the political decision about Brexit is settled, the focus will move swiftly to the precise nature of the new relationship between the UK and the EU. The question of regulatory alignment or divergence will then take centre stage - with an uncertain outcome and potentially far-reaching implications for the tech sector.