In Case You Missed It: where politics and technology intersect

Welcome toICYMI– a weekly snapshot of European news stories that have given me pause for thought. ICYMI is a chance for you to go beyond the front-page headlines and find out what other stories may be worthy of your attention.

Politics and technology are deeply entwined. And given that there will be several high-profile elections in 2024, including in the UK, the US, India and elsewhere, journalists around the globe will increasingly look at everything – the tech sector included – through a political lens.

We’re already starting to see the effect of the general election on the media landscape in the UK. This week, IT Pro reported on a new survey of UK tech firms from innovation funding consultancy Ayming UK, which found overwhelming support for the left-wing Labour party, with only 9% of firms saying that they expect the impact of a Labour government to be negative. According to the report, many firms say that they are put off claiming available R&D tax credits due to the current government’s aggressive compliance programme.

This article underlines how even now, months away from the vote, the general election is having a big impact on all sectors of media. PRs need to factor this into their pitching and ideation process when coming up with creative angles for clients.

It’s the EU vs Apple as the DMA comes into force

In other news, European media is focusing on the Digital Markets Act, which came into force on March 7. According to Le Monde, the DMA specifically targets large tech companies, identifying them as “gatekeepers”, and aims to prevent them from using their dominant positions to stifle competition and innovation.

The DMA mandates more choice for consumers, including allowing third-party app stores and payment methods onto tech platforms. This could significantly open up the market for new entrants, as well as impact the revenue models and exclusivity of tech giants. Apple in particular may be affected, and it is contesting the EU Commission’s decision.

For tech PRs, this move is significant, as it signals a shift towards greater market regulation of the tech industry and reflects growing global concerns over the power wielded by tech giants. For companies within the tech sector and related industries, this could mean navigating new compliance challenges and competitive dynamics in the future.

Cybersecurity issues plague Germany’s armed forces

The intertwining of technology and politics can have positive and negative results. For an example of the latter, we have this story from WirtschaftsWoche on “the Taurus leak”, where the audio recording of a conversation between high-ranking members of the German armed forces was published on a Russian social media site.

The leak has fuelled a debate about Germany’s national security. Russia is accused of trying to discredit the German state and divide society, but the story also points to cybersecurity shortcomings in the German state. For businesses, the leaks underline the importance of proper IT security and the potential reputational damage that can result if it is neglected.

Chipmaker turns the screws on Dutch government

Another way we can see tech and politics combine occurs when tech companies decide to criticise politicians.

Last week, chipmaker ASML, one of Europe’s biggest tech companies, threatened to move part of its business away from the Netherlands, putting pressure on the Dutch government. ASML cited the worsening Dutch business climate, a lack of housing for employees, power grid congestion and less attractive tax breaks for expats as important reasons for this consideration.

The Dutch business climate has been the subject of criticism for a while, but this statement from ASML is perhaps the most prominent statement so far. In fact, ASML’s criticism was published at a similar time to the latest State of Dutch Tech report from Technleap, which represents the Dutch tech industry. The report provides a data-driven overview of all 2023 developments in the Dutch tech sector, compared to other leading regions. The report claims that the Dutch tech ecosystem is showing signs of slowing growth, as well as a lack of domestic investment.

Interestingly, managing remote teams was cited as one of the biggest people and cultural challenges by 31% of startups in the Netherlands. As a location-agnostic organisation, we are proud to offer remote working to our staff, and are always on hand to offer advice to clients trying to navigate this challenge.