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G7 Digital and Technology Ministerial Declaration reflects techUK recommendations

The UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and European Union have agreed to the G7 Digital and Technology Ministerial Declaration. The Declaration reflects the set of recommendations that techUK has put forward earlier in the year as well as the joint Tech7 statement that we published last month with our sister technology trade associations from the G7 countries and the EU.

Promoting Secure, Resilient, and Diverse Digital, Telecoms, and ICT Infrastructure Supply Chains

For the first time the G7 discussed the importance of promoting security and resilience in critical digital infrastructure, in particular in telecommunications, including 5G and future communications technologies. In the declaration, G7 countries commit to developing their collaboration on this throughout the year.

In our paper, techUK has recommended that the UK government leads the G7 group working together to push for alignment on R&D, standards and development of 5G/6G and disaggregated networks, particularly Open RAN, as well as ensuring cooperation on good regulation for telecommunications services.

A Framework for G7 Collaboration on Digital Technical Standards

The G7 ministerial declaration underlines the need for collaboration on how democratic governments and stakeholders can support the development of digital technical standards that online tools, services and protocols should measure up to, and which, among other things, will guide the development of a free, open and secure Internet.

On this topic, techUK has argued that standards are critical in the development of telecoms and influencing them can be a competitive differentiator for either companies or countries. The UK’s Diversification Strategy rightly placed a strong focus on the need to develop standards, particularly around future telecoms generations as well as the push towards disaggregated networks. We are particularly pleased to see the UK Government leading on improving the dialogue and information exchange between G7 members, national regulatory bodies and the private sector about standards-related developments.

A G7 Roadmap for Cooperation on Data Free Flow with Trust

The Declaration highlights the importance of cooperation to seize the opportunities and benefits of data free flow with trust for people, businesses and economies. The G7 will build evidence on the impacts of data localisation, promote regulatory cooperation and accelerate the development of best practice approaches for data sharing across a broader set of priority areas. These areas may include transport, science and research, education and natural disaster mitigation.

In our joint Tech7 statement, the tech sector industry associations of the G7 countries and the EU have made strong recommendations on this particular point. We have encouraged our governments to work together to secure commitments guaranteeing the free flow of data across borders, by combatting undue restrictions to a global, digitalised economy, while balancing regulatory autonomy on privacy and data protection matters. We have also underlined the importance of refraining from imposing localization measures requiring the local storage or processing of data or the use of local computer facilities.

G7 Internet Safety Principles

G7 countries commit to protecting human rights online and agree that tech companies have a corporate responsibility for their users’ safety. This means they should have systems and processes in place to reduce illegal and harmful activity and prioritise the protection of children.

techUK has long supported a regulatory framework which focuses on systems and processes, instead of individual pieces of content and we are pleased to see a shared commitment to protecting individual rights, such as freedom of expression online, as a fundamental component of the democratic societies which we live in.  

Deepening Cooperation on Digital Competition

G7 countries recognise that a more joined-up approach to regulation and promoting competition in digital markets is needed to better serve consumers and businesses. Regulators have agreed to meet in the autumn to discuss these issues further.

In our paper, techUK has argued that G7 presents an opportunity for the UK to continue leading the way in coordinating with other regimes around the world, considering the diversity and nuance of the global digital landscape and the need for context and collaboration when regulating online content and competition. For example, the UK is setting up a Digital Markets Unit in the CMA to open up the dialogue between regulators, technologists and consumers while aiming to develop expertise in digital markets and form effective and proportionate regulation for the wide digital ecosystem.

A Framework for G7 Collaboration on Electronic Transferable Records

The G7 countries have agreed to develop a framework for the use of electronic transferable records, to address legal barriers and coordinate domestic reforms so companies can use digital solutions for the shipment of goods and trade finance - replacing slow and outdated paper transactions.

techUK has long argued that digital trade can also play a role in facilitating the flow of other goods in services. In our digital trade report published last year as well as in our recommendations for the G7 from this year, we argue that the UK should work with international bodies and other partners to secure the recognition of e-signatures and expand paperless trading, helping to bring all aspects of trade into the 21st Century.

Building on the momentum from this G7 Digital and Technology track, the UK will also host the Future Tech Forum this September. The Forum will convene like-minded democratic partners to discuss the role of technology in supporting open societies and tackling global challenges, in collaboration with industry, academia, and other key stakeholders.

For any more information, members can reach out to Sabina.

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