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Meta calls for UK govt rethink over plans to scrap EU laws

Facebook owner Meta is urging UK lawmakers considering legislation to scrap all retained European Union laws by 2024 to maintain some e-commerce rules to keep Britain globally competitive.

The UK government introduced legislation in September to amend, repeal or replace all EU laws automatically retained after Brexit by the end of next year.

"The Brexit Freedoms Bill will enable the UK government to remove years of burdensome EU regulation in favour of a more agile, home-grown regulatory approach that benefits people and businesses across the UK," it said at the time.

In a newly disclosed letter to a committee of MPs scrutinising the bill, the US tech giant said it wanted to draw "attention to one key area of retained EU legislation that we believe may be affected".

The California-based company, which has around 4,000 full-time staff in Britain, noted 2002 electronic commerce regulations based on an EU directive limit the liability of online platforms "that act as a mere conduit".

"This framework... is critical to maintaining an online environment that enables a thriving and diverse technology sector to flourish in the UK," Meta said.

It warned that without it, "platforms and websites are less likely to want to operate in the UK and may pull back from making the UK a hub for innovative new products and services in the way the government envisages".

Meta argued the provisions should be "either explicitly maintained elsewhere or recommend that the E-Commerce Regs are removed from scope of the Revocation Bill".

The draft legislation is currently working its way through parliament.

It has provoked a backlash in Britain, with many public and private interest groups and organisations accusing the government of moving too far, too fast.

Trade unions are among those opposed to the bill, with one leading organisation warning in another letter to the committee published Friday that it "poses a significant threat to workers' rights and should be opposed by MPs".

"It is striking that ministers have yet to explain which laws they intend to retain, to amend or allow to expire," the Trades Union Congress said.

"Indeed, there even remains uncertainty about whether government knows which laws are affected," it added, arguing "the ultimate goal is deregulation".

Meanwhile TheCityUK, one of London's leading financial lobby groups, said it has "a number of reservations about the appropriateness of this Bill in current circumstances".

The organisation cited "the overall need for it, opportunity costs, the risk of worsening the relationship with the EU, and the potential for increased burdens on business".

"At a minimum, a far longer sunset period for implementation should be allowed," it added.

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