PR pitch to Ola reveals the inner workings of UK ride-hailing politics

A UK PR firm pitching to run an account for Ola has proposed running a campaign to politicize ride-hailing as a tactic to shift regulations in its favor. The approach suggests that, despite the appearance of ride-hailing platforms taking a more conciliatory position with regulators that are now wise to earlier startup tactics in this space, there remains a calculus involving realpolitik, propaganda and high-level lobbying between companies that want to enter or expand in markets, and those who hold the golden tickets to do so. In 2017 Estonia-based ride-hailing startup Taxify tried to launch in London ahead of regulatory approval, for example, but city authorities clamped down straight away. It was only able to return to the UK capital …

Brexit means clear your cookies for democracy

Brexit looks set to further sink the already battered reputation of tracking cookies after a Buzzfeed report yesterday revealed what appears to be a plan by the UK’s minority government to use official government websites to harvest personal data on UK citizens for targeting purposes. According to leaked government documents obtained by the news site, the prime minister has instructed government departments to share website usage data that’s collected via gov.uk websites with ministers on a cabinet committee tasked with preparing for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. It’s not clear how linking up citizens use of essential government portals could further ‘no deal’ prep. Rather the suspicion is it’s a massive, consent-less voter data grab by party political forces preparing for …

US legislator, David Cicilline, joins international push to interrogate platform power

US legislator David Cicilline will be joining the next meeting of the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and ‘Fake News’, it has been announced. The meeting will be held in Dublin on November 7. Chair of the committee, the Irish Fine Gael politician The congressman — who is chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee — will attend as an “ex officio member” which will allow him to question witnesses, she added. Exactly who the witnesses in front of the grand committee will be is tbc. But the inclusion of a US legislator in the ranks of a non-US committee that’s been seeking answers about reining in online disinformation will certainly make any invitations …