techUK Policy Pulse | Your weekly update on digital and tech policy

With tied votes, naked protests and a deluge from the heavens it was another week in Westminster that surpassed all expectations. Once again we are just a week away from No Deal. Will Parliament pass the Letwin-Cooper Bill? Will the PM thrash out a deal with Jeremy Corbyn? Will Nick Boles lead the Independent Conservative Group to a historic General Election win? Will the UK secure an extension to Article 50? Will we still be in the European Union when I’m writing Policy Pulse this time next week? No one knows. But it should make for a cracking chapter in Tim Shipman’s next book.
  
Meanwhile, looking again into the crystal ball... 

Monday should see the publication of the long-awaited Online Harms White Paper – which we expect to be a shade of green. This landmark paper should mark the next step in the journey towards a new regulatory framework to address online harms. To be effective the White Paper is going to have to tackle some difficult issues. techUK hopes it will: be clear in defining the different forms of online harm and explicit about how difficult boundary issues should be tackled; be clear about how trade-offs are balanced between harm prevention and fundamental rights; and, avoid creating inconsistencies between what is acceptable online and offline. Let’s see how it fares!  

Watch out also for other related documents being published on the same day, perhaps on age-appropriate design codes and age-verification of pornographic websites (yep, that is still happening…). 

Meanwhile on stuff that did happen this week… 

DCMS’s Matthew Gould was confirmed as new CEO of NHSX with responsibility for setting the national technology agenda for healthcare. There is broad consensus that NHS technology simply isn’t good enough, techUK is looking forward to working with Matthew and NHSX to propel the UK into a destination of choice for health tech innovation.
 
The Department for Education launched its EdTech strategy to explore ways technology can help reduce teacher workload, increase efficiency and improve accessibility and inclusion. I was delighted to join a panel of experts at the Schools and Academies Show to discuss the classrooms of the future and it’s clear that in Education as everywhere else – AI and automation will be crucial in giving teachers back time to do what they do best!


techUK news and events

On Tuesday techUK launched its new Human Rights Policy guide at its Human Rights & Supply Chains conference. There was an extremely strong turnout demonstrating tech’s commitment to mitigating human rights risks all the way through their supply chains.  

The techUK team had a productive few days in Geneva for the UNCTAD’s eCommerce Week. Digital Trade was high on the agenda and techUK led the conversation both through panel discussions and in a host of meetings on the fringes. To read a summary of what we got up to, click here.  

On Tuesday 9 April, techUK is hosting another one of our regular introductory evenings – if you’re thinking about joining techUK come and find out a little more about us, and if you’ve recently joined then this evening is the perfect opportunity to find out how to maximise your membership. For more info, click here.

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