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Labour appoints Chi Onwurah as shadow minister for digital industries

Former Labour digital government spokeswoman takes on role of shadowing digital economy minister Ed Vaizey, with Louise Haigh taking her old role

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Chi Onwurah as the party’s shadow minister for digital industries. Onwurah will shadow the government’s minister of state for culture and the digital economy, Ed Vaizey.

“Excited to take on the culture, communications and creative industries brief with responsibility for digital industries brief,” said Onwurah, in a tweet. Vaizey’s role is a shared responsibility between two departments – Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) – and Onwurah will similarly shadow both organisations.

Vaizey’s brief includes areas such as broadband delivery and telecommunications policy. DCMS has also taken over policy responsibility for data protection and sponsorship of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Prior to the general election, Onwurah was Labour’s shadow minister for digital government and cyber security, and she was responsible for the party’s digital government review that fed into the election manifesto. Before becoming a member of parliament in 2010, Onwurah was head of international technology strategy and head of telecoms technology at communications regulator Ofcom.

Onwurah has criticised the government’s approach to managing personal data, and has called for citizens to have greater input to the development of digital services.

“The Labour party believes that when used properly – with proper concern for privacy, transparency and service design – technology can be a powerful tool and reshape how government and citizens interact with each other; but we need to establish the principles and need an approach to digital that embraces the unique role of the public sector in treating people as citizens, rather than consumers,” Onwurah said at an event in London in June 2015.

Onwurah's former role as shadow digital government minister has been taken on by Sheffield MP Louise Haigh, who became a Labour MP in the 2015 election. "I will be joining the shadow Cabinet Office team as the shadow digital minister with responsibility for the government's digital strategy, the Freedom of Information Act, data security and privacy," she wrote on her website.

"These issues will be of increasing importance in this parliament as we work to ensure that the digital revolution works for the interests of all in society and we navigate the line between privacy and security." 

Watch Chi Onwurah and Ed Vaizey debate the digital economy

In February 2015, Computer Weekly hosted a digital debate between the Conservatives' Ed Vaizey and Labour's Chi Onwurah to discuss the parties' digital manifestos prior to the general election. Watch the videos of the debate here:

  • Digital Question Time: How will the next government support the emerging tech startup sector.
  • UK political parties discuss the hot tech issues - Computer Weekly, TechUK and BCS held a digital debate with the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.
  • The question over whether Government Digital Services can scale locally was also discussed at the Computer Weekly debate on government digital policies.
  • Computer Weekly hosted a debate with the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties looking at their technology policies for the UK.

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