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Queen’s Speech outlines UK government proposal for ‘new digital charter’

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The government has pledged to introduce a new ‘digital charter’ which will seek to ensure the UK “is the safest place to be online” and that it retains “its world-class regime protecting personal data”.

Today’s Queen’s Speech also featured a series of proposed new laws formulated to prepare the country for a “smooth and orderly” Brexit.

Some 27 bills were announced by the monarch, with eight of these relating to the UK’s departure from the EU and its potential implications across some of the country’s key sectors.

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Julian David, the CEO at techUK, said: “This Queen’s Speech confirms Brexit will be the key priority of the next parliament.

“It will be crucial that the Repeal Bill, alongside legislation on customs, trade and immigration, recognises the importance of the tech sector to our economic future. It is right that the government seeks to achieve the broadest possible consensus on Brexit across both parliament and business. This will mean focusing on the future needs of our economy and society.”

Despite his optimism, David highlighted there was a fine line between strengthening protection and over reaching rules that constrain the creativity of businesses and citizens.

“The tech sector shares the government’s ambition of making the UK the safest place to be online.  It will work closely with the government on its plans for a digital charter and counter extremism measures.  

“Collaboration, cooperation and trust are key to creating a safe and secure digital world,” he added.

The government’s proposals also caught the attention of, Mark Lubbock, a technology partner at law firm Ashurt, who acknowledged the new ‘digital charter’ may prove to be controversial.

“Following Theresa May’s manifesto proposal to establish an international framework akin to those that exist in areas such as banking and trade, the charter will no doubt include proposals for closer scrutiny and regulation of certain activities online, chiefly of extremist material or content that is abusive or harmful to children.

“Despite the government’s stated commitment to ‘a free and open internet’, these proposals are likely to be of concern to both tech companies, who generally shy away from anything that resembles overarching regulation of the internet, and civil liberties groups, who will be concerned about the impact on free speech.”

The news of the Tories’ intentions to crackdown on extremist content online will come as no surprise to many, given the fact that May has been vocal about her desire to do so, and she has historically championed the Investigatory Powers Bill, which came into force last year.

Today’s speech, which included a bill to convert EU rules into UK law, comes after official Brexit negotiations began in Brussels.

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