UK government puts its heart into Digital Charter
The UK government is pushing new standards to keep the nation’s digital economy, cybersecurity and tech investment on track.
Prime Minister Theresa May has given further details on the Digital Charter which was published yesterday (25 January). The Charter sets the direction for the UK to become the “best place to start and grow a digital business and the safest place in the world to be online”.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the PM says the internet has changed the way people behave and interact online. Combined with new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), “it is set to change society – growing the economy, making us more productive and raising living standards”.
There will be challenges and risks – some fintech, some not – such as intellectual property issues and spreading terrorist material.
Via the Digital Charter, the government will agree new norms and rules for the online world and put them into practice. It will not be developed by the government alone. It will look to the tech sector, businesses and civil society to help.
Priorities include data is used in a safe and ethical way and making sure that companies have suitable cybersecurity.
Also at Davos, and as reported yesterday, May said the risk that cryptocurrencies can be used by criminals means Britain and other governments should be looking at them “very seriously”.
May wants to introduce regulations before the amount of outstanding Bitcoin becomes large enough to be systemically important in the global economy.
Calls for chair
In addition, there was talk from May about a new advisory body, called the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (and previously reported in the Autumn Budget), that will co-ordinate efforts with other nations.
May confirmed that the UK would join the Davos forum’s own council on AI and said this area is one of the “greatest tests of leadership for our time”.
The government has revealed it will be investing £9 million in the centre and will look for a governance regime which “fully supports both ethical and innovative uses of these technologies”.
Digital and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock says it is launching a call for a chair to lead the interim centre to “shape its early work and establish the permanent centre on a firm and credible footing”. You can apply for the job here.
Ode to code
Finally, the PM has announced a £20 million Institute of Coding.
As part of this, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and others will join forces with more than 60 universities and industry bodies to “boost future digital skills”.
Employers will have a “tangible input to the curriculum, working hand-in-hand with universities to develop specialist skills in areas where they are needed most”.
The PM also spoke about the £10 million investment in free and subsidised training courses to help adults retrain and learn new skills.
Launched as part of the Industrial Strategy, the pilot programmes, located in Leeds, Devon and Somerset, Lincolnshire, Stoke-on-Trent and the West Midlands, will test how to reach out and support people with the cost of retraining. The government has invested £30 million to test the use of AI and edtech in online digital skills courses.
It adds that its £20 million investment will be matched by a further £20 million from industry, including in-kind contributions such as training and equipment.