Business development · 26 January 2018

Digital charter to set new standards for doing business online

The government wants the same rights people have offline to be protected online

The government has published its new digital charter, outlining a direction for the UK to become the best and safest country in the world to set up and grow a digital business.

According to a statement released by the government, the digital charter will be a “rolling programme” of work which aims to agree rules and standards for doing business online and put them into practice.

The charter will involve changing practices and shifting expectations and updating the UK’s laws and regulations in some cases, the statement read.

In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Theresa May provided further detail of what the new digital charter would involve.

She said that through the charter, Britain would ensure that innovative tech businesses would be able to thrive, and the public would be able to trust the development of new technologies.

The prime minister outlined a set of principles she said were at the heart of the digital charter, adding that they were “profoundly pro-business”.
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May said that the same rights people have offline should be protected online, and that the internet should remain free, open and accessible.

She also called for people’s personal data to be respected and used appropriately, and that protection measures be in place to help keep people safe online, especially children.

“Underpinning all of this is our determination to make the UK a world leader in innovation-friendly regulation,” the prime minister added.

“Regulation that will make the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business – but also the safest place to be online.”

The government will work alongside businesses and organisations in the third sector to develop and update the digital charter.

Julian David, the CEO at techUK, a representative body for tech sector businesses, said that there remained a lot to be achieved by working with the government to solve shared digital problems.

He added: “Rapid and effective progress will depend upon genuine and open dialogue. We have to ensure that proposed solutions are practical and deliverable and never lose sight of the twin objectives to have the world’s safest and most successful digital economy

Welcoming the digital charter, CEO at digital think tank Doteveryone, Rachel Coldicutt, said that it was good to see the government recognising a need to make digital technology more responsible, fair and inclusive.

“This is an important opportunity for a public debate on how we shape our digital society,” she added. “Regulation of digital technologies must be not only good for business, but good for everyone.”

Commenting on the launch of the digital charter, the digital, culture, media and sport secretary, Matt Hancock, said that the UK would continue to be an “innovation friendly digital economy” as well as a “haven for tech investment”.

He added: “The internet is a powerful force for good with the potential to benefit everyone’s lives. But there are clear challenges and we need to protect people from the potential harms. Our digital charter responds to this challenge.”

Read more: Four re-booted business resolutions to keep for the rest 2018

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.

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