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Brexit has left a regulatory black hole for digital, say MPs

You mean there actually was a plan in the first place?

Artist's view of a binary black hole. Pic credit: NASA, ESA and G Bacon (STScI)

Brexit has left the UK peering into a digital regulatory void, according to MPs.

The government must provide greater clarity on digital regulation and ensure it stays on track in light of the EU referendum result, the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee finds in a report published today (PDF).

Issues that need addressing include the impact on UK tech firms that employ digitally skilled EU migrants and access to the European single digital market for British-based companies, the Committee says.

It also urged the government to clarify regulation for "disruptive" shared-economy technologies, such as Uber and Airbnb, "so as to promote productivity, innovation and customer choice and protection, while safeguarding workers and ensuring fairness".

The publication of the Government's Digital Strategy has been delayed by over six months. The Committee urges the government to set out in its Digital Strategy the implications of Brexit, with reference to specific, current negotiations relating to the digital economy.

"We look forward to the publication of the Government's Digital Strategy, in the summer of 2016 (six months later than expected)," it said.

However, sources have told The Register that the strategy has been put on ice following Brexit.

The strategy is also supposed to contain an outline of how the Government Digital Service will spend its £450m windfall from last November.

Iain Wright MP, chair of the BIS committee, urged the government to set out its plans. "This includes urgently addressing the concerns of tech companies who rely on the single market and high-skilled migrants from the EU.

"The Government needs to clarify regulation to ensure fair competition while enabling digital businesses to thrive and grow to the benefit of consumers and the UK economy."

However, Brexit did not seem to deter the government from publishing its rubbish bin of legislation via the Digital Economy Bill earlier this month. ®

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