28th October 2019
Written by Aidan Reid, Associate
Edited by David Gaffney, Partner
Sharing isn’t necessarily about caring anymore. Social media has moved far beyond enabling people to announce engagements and chat with crushes. We have seen countless apps and websites emerge in which content – the more outlandish the better – is the key. Whatever your speciality, be it epic handshake memes or using Instagram to reveal acts of betrayal by a friend, you will find a place for it online. The latest of these is TikTok. Following the trend of previous video clip sites like Vine, this Chinese platform allows users to upload short clips with lip-synching, dubbing and animation. TikTok and its country of origin have become the focus of some debate after two senior US senators wrote to the acting head of US national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, calling for it to be investigated. TikTok is the first Chinese social media platform to become a genuinely global phenomenon, which has prompted concerns over who has access to its data,given previous examples of China’s violation of intellectual property. For its part, TikTok has insisted it follows strict confidentiality rules, but this nevertheless represents another example of a growing demand among legislators in the US and Europe for a stronger regulatory system to enforce and ensure data protection for social media users. Facebook has provided the focus for much of this activity thus far, not least for the way that platform was used during the 2016 political explosions of Brexit and the US presidential election. Many of those concerns re-emerged at an appearance at a congressional committee by Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, last week. The hearing focused principally on Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, and the implications of a social media company, with all the data it possesses, entering the realm of financial services. More than 30 major data privacy bodies, including the UK’s Information Commissioner, have also called for concerns around the use of personal data by the payment platform to be addressed and for regulations around this to be enforced. These calls are likely to grow louder still. As social media sites have expanded from direct messaging into generating content, the sector’s giants look increasingly set to enter into new and varied ventures that bring with them concerns that these platforms have strayed far from what people signed up for when they registered as users. The extent to which young users of social media platforms are protected is particularly important here. Facebook-owned Instagram has today announced a series of measures to tackle graphic content that promotes self-harm, after a public campaign following the suicide of British teenager, Molly Russell. But will such efforts at self-regulation be sufficient to shake-off a sense that these platforms are not taking enough responsibility for the exposure of a young audience to bullying and harmful content? Legislators fear that in their influence, reach, and impact on young people, social media platforms will continue to breach accepted boundaries. The challenge remains how best to legislate against that mission creep.
It is expected that the EU will agree a three-month extension to the Brexit process today. Leaked papers revealed that there would be a clause inserted to allow Britain to exit the agreement early if the withdrawal agreement was ratified by parliament, and that the current agreement will not be renegotiated. The prospect of a December general election remains live, though a motion from the UK Government calling for one on 12 December is unlikely to receive the two-thirds majority required for it to pass. A bill potentially being lodged by the SNP and Liberal Democrats tomorrow stands a better chance, and would see an election take place on 9 December once an Article 50 extension is guaranteed. The Scottish Football Association is considering banning youngsters from heading the ball during training and games. The proposals come in response to a University of Glasgow study indicating that professional footballers were three-and-a-half times likelier than others to succumb to dementia in later life. The US president, Donald Trump, announced yesterday that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed during a raid by US special forces. Al-Baghdadi oversaw the rise of the terrorist group which has killed tens of thousands and destroyed the lives of countless more in its sweep across Iraq and Syria.
Business and economy
One of the leading companies seeking to take tourists to space, Virgin Galactic, becomes the first in its sector to list on the stock exchange today. The company reportedly has 600 customers willing to pay upwards of $250,000 to travel on one of its shuttles, and expects to achieve more than 115 launches each year by 2021. (£) The Daily Telegraph and its Sunday equivalent are to be put up for sale by their owners, the Barclay brothers. It follows a review and consolidation of both brothers’ assets in order to allow family members no longer interested in the family business to be bought out. Both papers have seen their readerships decline in recent times, falling to 310,586 and 244,351 respectively. The LVMH consortium, owner of several leading upmarket brands such as Louis Vutton, potentially faces a rejection of its $14.5 billion offer for jewellers Tiffany’s. Backed by Europe’s richest man Bernard Arnault, LVHM is said to see Tiffany’s as a gateway into the US market, although it has been claimed its offer undervalues the firm. HSBC saw an 18% fall in pre-tax profits in its third quarter results. The bank, which is the biggest in Europe, was felt by analysts to be exposed to impacts from the current political turmoil in the UK and Hong Kong, as well as the trade war between the US and China.
The week ahead
Although it looks less and less likely that Halloween will see the UK leave the European Union, this week retains the potential for significant developments. It sees a continuation of third-quarter reporting by the UK’s major banks and investment institutions. HSBC has already reported, with Standard Chartered and Lloyds to follow. Further indications over the impact of mis-sold PPI claims are likely to dominate investor thinking. BP is also reporting on Tuesday, with falling oil prices leading to expectations of a fall in profits. Looking to the US, more than 160 companies on the S&P 500 will be reporting, including consumer giants like Kraft Heinz and energy companies like ExxonMobil. Of possibly greater interest is the set of results from Silicon Valley’s tech giants, with Apple, Google owner Alphabet and Facebook expected. The Apple results come ahead of the launch on Friday of its new Apple TV streaming services.
Whats happening today?
Bilby Petra Diamonds PDL Verseon (Di)
UK Economic Announcements
CBI Distributive Trades Survey
Columns of Note
Wolfgang Münchau calls for EU member states to pursue greater collective action in the Financial Times. He highlights how Germany’s decision to allow Chinese telecoms group, Huawei, to bid for its 5G infrastructure undermines the whole of the EU’s security infrastructure. It is argued that leading countries in the bloc need to start making such decisions with the collective whole in mind. He adds that the EU, while good at triangulating between the needs of member states on a case-by-case basis, has yet to develop a collective geopolitical strategy. (£) The financial difficulties faced by WeWork should be seen as a warning for investors looking at unicorn companies, according to Nesrine Malik in The Guardian. Malik argues that the model of unicorns, of securing market domination while its rivals fall by the wayside, is unsustainable with the amount of short-term debt required.
Did you know?
The most valuable diamond in existence is said to be the Hope diamond. It has been estimated it would fetch $250 million at auction and is currently on public display in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in New York.
House of Commons Oral questions Home Affairs (including Topical Questions) Motion Early Parliamentary General Election - Boris Johnson Legislation Environment Bill: 2nd reading Motion Section 3(2) of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 - Julian Smith Adjournment Provision of the service by Southern Water in Tunbridge Wells constituency - Greg Clark Westminster Hall debate e-petition 254607 relating to restoring nature and climate change - Daniel Zeichner House of Lords Introduction(s) Lord Hendy and Baroness Hunt of Bethnal Green Oral questions Assessing the regulation and general effectiveness of methadone - Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe Granting local authorities more powers to manage their local tourism industries - Baroness Doocey Regulating websites such as AirBnb and assessing their impact on the availability of housing for rent - Baroness Gardner of Parkes Restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland - Lord Lexden Legislation Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill [HL] - Second reading - Lord Duncan of Springbank Debate A motion pursuant to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 - Lord Duncan of Springbank Short debate Strengthening vocational education and training in secondary schools - Viscount Bridgeman Scottish Parliament No business scheduled TOMORROW
House of Parliament Oral questions Health and Social Care (including Topical Questions) Legislation Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill: 2nd reading Adjournment Mining of minerals in Barford - Matt Western Westminster Hall debate Proposed reinstatement of the Colne to Skipton railway link - Graham P Jones Funding of Liverpool City Council - Stephen Twigg Endometriosis workplace support - Alec Shelbrooke Bus services in Cumbria - Tim Farron House of Lords Oral questions Impact of electric scooters on public roads and pavements with regard to other road users and pedestrian safety - Lord Naseby Promoting new zero carbon emissions by 2050, as recommended in the National Infrastructure Report 'Strategic Investment and Public Confidence' - Lord Berkeley Fiscal framework of government's spending promises - Lord Haskel Replacing Victorian-era prisons with more modern facilities - Lord Lee of Trafford Legislation Health Service Safety Investigations Bill [HL] - Second reading - Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Government support for economy and innovation in Northern Ireland - Emma Little Pengelly Scottish Parliament Topical Questions Ministerial Statement Promoting the Safe and Appropriate use of Fireworks in Scotland Scottish Government Debate Improving Disability Assistance in Scotland Members’ Business debate Pauline McNeill: Asda Walmart, Contract Imposition