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Gov.UK vows to chop red tape in the digital sector. What could possibly go wrong?

Answers on a postcard below

The UK government has published its latest pile of policy-related paperwork that it claims will help shape the UK's growing digital sector.

The government's grandly titled "Plan for Digital Regulation" acknowledges that technology is one of the "UK's most dynamic and important industries" contributing £151bn towards the UK economy in 2019 and sets out a "ground-breaking approach to the way we govern tech in this country."

Publishing its policy paper, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) insists government should “only regulate when absolutely necessary and do so in a proportionate way.”

And in a bid to harness this area of growth it’s keen for people within the tech sector to submit their ideas on how government can help “reduce red tape and cut down on cumbersome and confusing policy so businesses are freed to come up with new ideas, grow their firms and create new jobs and prosperity.”

Adding his voice to the announcement, Julian David, chief exec of industry body techUK, said: “Creating a framework for digital regulation that promotes innovation is a global challenge. If the UK can get this right, we can drive discussions at the international level and build on our reputation as a leading digital economy.”

Asked what would happen if the UK doesn’t get it right, a spokesperson for techUK told us that "failing to find the right balance between innovation and trust in how we regulate the digital economy would be a missed opportunity."

TechUK is an advocate a big tech because its membership is comprised of tech companies, including the biggest and the baddest.

Governments and their advisers are no strangers in tying themselves in knots over red tape.

Only recently, the Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) published its musings in a post-Brexit world including how best to avoid “unnecessary red tape” - like killing regulations that could potentially strip the UK of its "adequate" status in data protection laws and prevent UK businesses from engaging with any personal data shared by EU citizens in a post-Brexit world.

Perhaps famously red-tape-snipping government-sponsored body, the Regulatory Policy Committee could take a look. After all, it found in its economic impact assessment for Gov.UK's now-canned age verification plans - aka the "pron block"- that it was "fit for purpose" overall.

Maybe we could look to the snipper of NHS red tape, Matt Hancock's NHSX. No?

In April, the UK government submitted major reforms to the legislation surrounding how mobile masts are deployed in the English countryside after previously being criticised for the slow removal of red tape in telecoms planning law.

In fact, rewind to 2011 and the government was so keen to wipe out unnecessary rules and regulations the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, unveiled the now-defunct "Red Tape Challenge" originally set up to "remove unnecessary and burdensome regulation."

Those looking to respond to the government's latest consultation have until Sept 28 to get their thoughts in order.

One voice already expressing opinion is Phil Booth at Med Confidential, the campaign group that is pushing for a more transparent use of data in the healthcare sector.


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