Digital Charter objectives likely to clash

The government’s new pledge of a Digital Charter is likely to prove one of the more controversial aspects of the Queen’s Speech read in Parliament on 21st June. Prime Minister Theresa May says the charter will have two objectives. It will make it easier to run online companies. And it will make the UK “the safest place in the world to be online”.

Those objectives are likely to clash.

The regulations that underpin the charter are yet to be worked out. But May has already warned technology firms such as Facebook and Twitter that they may face fines for not removing abusive content or terror content from their networks. “We will make sure that technology companies do more to protect their users and improve safety online,” May said.

Speaking to Tech City News, Mark Lubbock, a technology partner at law firm Ashurt, said: “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.”

Rob Brown, Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and Managing Partner of Rule 5, told Enterprise Risk: “Many people will support the government’s intention to try and tackle cyberbullying, incitement to terror and other undesirable activities online.  However there remain legitimate reservations about allowing a government to simply create a permanent state of emergency online by giving itself powers on the internet it does not exercise elsewhere.  We don’t have police informers in every pub, and we don’t expect the post office to open our letters.”

To find out about the IRM’s special interest group on cyber risk and data management, click here.

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