UK Government publishes digital charter to codify ‘same rights and behaviour online as offline’

Written by Sam Trendall on 29 January 2018 in News

The UK Government document lays out six guiding principles and seven programmes of work

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The UK Government has published a ‘digital charter’, laying out its guiding principles for the online world and a programme of work it hopes will make the internet a safer and more prosperous place for UK citizens.

In rolling out the aims and initiatives established in the charter, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that “our starting point will be that we will have the same rights and expect the same behaviour online as we do offline”.

With that in mind, the charter codifies six principles that the UK Government hopes will “make the internet work for everyone”. These are:

  • The internet should be free, open and accessible
  • People should understand the rules that apply to them when they are online
  • Personal data should be respected and used appropriately
  • Protections should be in place to help keep people safe online, especially children
  • The same rights that people have offline must be protected online
  • The social and economic benefits brought by new technologies should be fairly shared

The charter goes on to set out “a rolling programme of work” in the pursuit of seven key goals, the first of which is to promote the digital economy, and the second is to protect people from harm online.

The third programme of work will involve “looking at the legal liability that online platforms have for the content shared on their sites”, and the fourth will focus on ensuring ethical behaviour in the use of data and artificial intelligence.  

The government’s fifth goal is to make sure digital markets are functioning well, while the penultimate area of work will seek to combat those who use the internet “to mislead for political, personal and/or financial gain”.

The final goal is to help businesses and individuals increase their levels of cybersecurity.

The UK government said the charter will not be developed by government alone.

“We will look to the tech sector, businesses and civil society to own these challenges with us, using our convening power to bring them together with other interested parties to find solutions,” it said.

It added: “Technology is always evolving and so will the charter, adapting to respond to new challenges and opportunities.

“This is a living document, which we will update as we make progress on our work programme.”

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