In an era when Big Tech lobbying has reached new heights both in Brussels and Washington, framing the narrative and providing clarity and unbiased commentary on digital policy issues has been no easy feat. Well-known to the tech policy community in Brussels and beyond — and a firm favorite of the civil society crowd — Ian Brown is a leading specialist on internet regulation, with particular experience in privacy and security.
Brown has previously held roles within the U.K. government as principal scientific officer for the country’s digital department as well as a professorship at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute. He’s long been a stalwart for opening up closed web architectures by way of interoperability, and has become a go-to source of expertise when those at the heart of recent regulatory debates had been mulling tougher rules in this field, as part of the bloc’s recently adopted Digital Markets Act.
Brown’s commentary often runs counter to that emanating from Big Tech’s lobbying machine in Brussels, and this was particularly the case surrounding several amendments to the DMA when it was going through co-legislative procedure in the EU capital. Brown, a firm backer of greater interoperability across digital services who touts the positive competitive effects it can achieve, was at the forefront of this debate. He could even be credited in some part to Parliament having persuaded the Council of the EU to accept revisions to the DMA text that will force messaging services — like iMessage and WhatsApp — to interoperate with one another.
What to watch out for this year: It’s likely that there will be a fresh wave of anti-interoperability pushback in Brussels this year. Expect Brown to be front and center of the debate, rebutting some of the scare stories.
What’s their superpower: Having the ability to distill a refined technical knowledge into clear policy positions.
Influence score: 18/30