It is not unreasonable to take the position that technology firms – at the cutting edge of innovation through new product and service development – should steer well away from the complex world of politics. However this overlooks the reality that the policy and regulatory decisions underpinning the sector’s operating environment are by their nature, political, and therefore engaging proactively with policymakers to help shape that future environment makes good business sense.
The range of current Government workstreams on technology and digital issues is vast. From the future of the UK’s data and privacy regime, to innovation and digital regulation, online safety, competition in digital markets, cyber security, AI technologies, digital tax and online advertising – there is a significant amount of thinking going on across Government about how policy and regulation should be shaped in response and to promote growth in this and other sectors where ministers see opportunities for the UK to develop a competitive edge in the post-Brexit environment.
Indeed for SMEs or newer entrants to the market, the risks of sitting back are even greater, as established players and those with the loudest voices look to either maintain the status quo or shape the regulatory environment in their favour, with heavy handed regulators also getting involved and creating a stifling environment for growth.
The tech sector is the fastest growing in the UK economy, but there is no monopoly of wisdom within Government about how best to tackle the challenges it faces. The risks of unintended consequences are significant. It is essential therefore that technology firms communicate effectively about the value of tech and work with the Government to shape the policy and regulatory environment in a way that creates a positive environment for long-term growth. Tech is political – and so it ought to be. But it is essential that companies take advantage of opportunities to be part of the conversation within Government and beyond.
Our team has significant experience of advising technology companies, helping them to engage with policymakers on a range of digital policy issues. If you would be interested in a conversation, please contact Will Blackman at firstname.lastname@example.org