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Tuesday's Business and Politics round-up

10 Dec 2019

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Good morning!

Official data suggests the number of Poles living abroad has fallen for the first time in eight years. The drop is almost entirely attributable to the decline in the number living in Britain. 

Polish and UK statistics suggest the amount of Polish people living in the UK has decreased by several tens of thousands over the course of the last 18 months. By 2018, 2.5 million Poles were working abroad but by the end of that year this fell by 85,000. 

The ruling Law and Justice Party is trying to use the country’s booming economy to lure its population back home in order to help combat the domestic labour shortage. It is forecasted that the Polish population will shrink by 12% by 2050. 

Last month Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said “Our income per head is at least 5% lower as a result of this emigration. This is a huge tax that Poland has paid to the rich countries of the west”. 

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Big tech, big problem?

The entrance of large technology firms into the banking sector creates the potential for risks related to financial stability and requires “vigilant monitoring”, according to the Financial Stability Board.

The global body of regulators, whose members include the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, says the scale of companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook means they could soon dominate rather than diversify financial services. 

The Board proposes these businesses be compelled to share data on their banking customers with financial technology groups and banks in order to avoid unfair competition. It added these companies have started to offer lending, insurance and asset management. 

Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Google are among the businesses which have obtained payment-related licenses in EU Member States and have started to offer financial products as a method of diversifying their revenue sources and gaining data on customers’ habits. 

Facebook is in the process of launching Libra, a digital currency, which would enable users to send money using the company’s apps. Meanwhile, Apple has recently created a credit card with Goldman Sachs and Amazon has discussed launching a current account with JP Morgan. 

Have I got news for you 

Boris Johnson has said that the BBC license fee could be scrapped under a Conservative government and replaced with a subscription model. 

Speaking at a campaign rally yesterday the Prime Minister questioned whether the current funding model “still makes sense” in a digital era. He added he was “looking at” decriminalising non-payment of the license fee. 

Johnson said “How long can you justify a system whereby everybody who has a TV has to pay to fund a particular set of TV and radio channels?” A leaked BBC document has suggested viewing by young people is “dangerously close to the brink”.

The license fee system cannot be removed until the BBC’s royal charter expires in 2027, but suggestions to decriminalise non-payment could be put forward before a mid-term review in 2022. The license fee is currently £154.50. 

The Prime Minister’s comments came soon after he was criticised for his reaction to a reporter showing him a photo of a sick child who had to sleep on the floor of a Leeds hospital. Johnson initially refused to look at the image and put the phone in his pocket. 

Fact-oring in the facts

UK authorities’ efforts to prevent foreign interference in elections is being hampered, as they are poorly equipped to deal with interference under the current rules, according to experts. 

Security experts have warned that archaic campaigning rules, limiting data regulations and the failure to publicise the risks of misinformation are impeding efforts to prevent foreign interference in the general election. 

Lisa-Marie Neudert, researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, said authorities are “ill-equipped [in the UK] to tackle problems in a way that’s adequate”. A report by the Institute argues there is a “pressing need” for new rules on the democratic use of new technologies. 

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Braw of the Modern Deterrence programme at the Royal United Services Institute suggests “We can use technology to defend and secure an election but we also need to use the population so that if something suspicious comes their way, they can identify it”. 

The Conservative Party was criticised last month when it temporarily renamed its Twitter account “factcheckUK”, while pro-Labour groups outside of the official campaign have been accused of harvesting data on voters while masquerading as a polling company.  

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