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Big Tech hires former Truss adviser to lobby UK government

A new face for a notorious tech lobby group

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a U.S.-based tech lobby group that represents some of the world’s largest tech companies, has appointed a new director for its UK branch. Matthew Sinclair, a veteran free marketeer and former chief economist to Liz Truss during her brief tenure as prime minister, will be the face of the CCIA in London.

The CCIA, whose members include Amazon, Apple, Meta and Google, as well as Britain’s BT, has been a longstanding feature of the lobbying landscape in Washington and Brussels, but Sinclair is the group’s first hire in London. The move reflects the growing importance of the UK as a digital market and a regulatory battleground for Big Tech.

“London is the first new office outside of Washington and Brussels. That shows how critical the UK is to the digital sector globally,” said CCIA president Matt Schruers in a call with POLITICO. “Britain is charting its own path outside the EU, and exploring new legal and regulatory approaches.”

Big Tech hires former Truss adviser to lobby UK government

A febrile time in British tech policymaking

Sinclair joins the CCIA at a time when the UK government is preparing to overhaul its competition regime, giving regulators more power to stop a handful of companies from dominating digital markets. The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill, which is expected to be published in late-April, will create a new branch of the Competition and Markets Authority called the Digital Markets Unit (DMU).

The DMU will be able to fine tech companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover and disqualify directors who do not comply with a new code of conduct. The code, which has not yet been published, will be designed to ensure that companies with ‘strategic market status’ cannot “unfairly use its market power and strategic position to distort or undermine competition between users of the … firm’s services,” the government has said.

The bill has sparked a fierce lobbying battle between Big Tech firms and their challengers, as well as concerns from some ministers that the legislation could be watered down by Big Tech’s influence. One of the main points of contention is the appeal mechanism for decisions made by the DMU. Big Tech firms want to be able to challenge the content or merit of the decisions, not just the process followed by the regulator.

A free market prophet turned tech outrider

Sinclair is well-known for his full-blooded free-market views and his experience in both think tanks and government. He spent over six years at the influential right-wing think tank the TaxPayers’ Alliance before joining professional services giant Deloitte. He was then brought in as chief adviser to Liz Truss, who became prime minister after Boris Johnson resigned following a vote of no confidence in 2022.

Truss was ousted after only six months in office by Rishi Sunak, who promised a more interventionist approach to economic policy and a tougher stance on China. Sinclair left Downing Street shortly after Truss’s departure and has been working as an independent consultant since then.

Sinclair said he was excited to join the CCIA and to advocate for “a dynamic digital sector that drives innovation and growth across the economy”. He added that he looked forward to working with policymakers and stakeholders “to ensure that Britain remains open to trade and investment, and that regulation is proportionate and evidence-based”.

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