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Queen’s Speech highlights digital charter and data protection

Government confirms plans to create a digital charter to ensure the UK is “the safest place to be online”, and a new law protecting personal data

In the Queen’s Speech, the government has promised national infrastructure to protect security, a new law protecting personal data, and a digital charter.  

Delivering the speech in parliament today, the Queen reiterated Tory manifesto plans for a new digital charter aiming to ensure online safety.

“A new law will ensure that the United Kingdom retains its world-class regime protecting personal data, and proposals for a new digital charter will be brought forward to ensure that the United Kingdom is the safest place to be online,” the Queen said.

The digital charter was a key part of the Conservative Party’s general election manifesto which aims to make the UK the “best place to start and run a digital business” and the “safest place in the world to be online”.  

The charter will be underpinned by a regulatory framework, to which digital companies and social media platforms will be held accountable. This includes giving regulators the power to fine or prosecute those failing to adhere to the laws.

In a document providing background notes to the speech, the government said it would enhance rights and protections in the workplace, “make the UK the best place in the world for digital business and bring forward a Data Protection Bill to ensure a world-class regime for protecting personal data”.

This will include giving people the right to “require major social media platforms to delete information held about them at the age of 18”.

The Queen also reiterated plans for the government to invest heavily in infrastructure, saying it would “bring forward proposals to ensure that critical national infrastructure is protected to safeguard national security”.

Counter-terrorism strategy

In light of the recent terror attacks, the government said it would also review its counter-terrorism strategy. 

“A commission for countering extremism will be established to support the government in stamping out extremist ideology in all its forms, both across society and on the internet, so it is denied a safe space to spread,” the Queen said.

The background document said online freedoms must be balanced with protections to ensure “citizens are protected from the potential harms of the digital world”.

“We will not shy away from tackling harmful behaviours and harmful content online – be that extremist, abusive or harmful to children,” the document said. “And we will make sure that technology companies do more to protect their users and improve safety online.”

The Queen also echoed the Tories’ plans for an overhaul of the court system by taking advantage of new technologies, saying: “Legislation will also be introduced to modernise the courts system.”

The reforms include introducing digital services, allowing businesses to pursue cases quickly and enabling them to recover debts more easily.

The background document also set out plans for separate bills on HS2 and the development of electric vehicles “and commercial satellites, so our economy is equipped with the world-leading infrastructure it needs to benefit from the opportunities of new technology”.

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