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Science and Technology in the King’s Speech 2023

Parliamentary carry-over of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill and the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill confirmed in yearly speech.

A wealth of new laws that will unleash competition in digital markets, prevent spam calls and foster innovation in emerging technologies like machine learning have been announced as part of the government’s legislative agenda in the King’s Speech.

As part of the yearly speech to the House of Lords, which sets out the government’s legislative agenda for this parliamentary session, King Charles III set out the carry-over of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill and the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill to continue their progress into the next parliamentary term, which the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is delivering.

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan yesterday said:

Today’s King’s Speech is a win for businesses and consumers, with our vital legislation set to unlock billions of pounds of benefits to business and tackle issues like nuisance calls that have plagued the public for too long.

It is an overwhelming show of support for driving innovation and growth across the country too. Our digital markets law will make sure every tech start-up has the opportunity to succeed, fuelling the engines of economic growth by opening doors for British firms to unleash innovation across the globe.

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill will secure better outcomes for consumers and businesses by driving innovation and addressing the root causes of competition issues in digital markets, seeking to better level the playing field across the technology sector.

As part of the Bill, a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) within the Competition and Markets Authority will be given new powers to address the far-reaching power of a small number of tech companies. This market dominance has stifled innovation and growth across the economy, holding back start-ups and smaller firms from accessing markets and consumers.

Data Protection and Digital Information Bill

The King’s Speech also made reference to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which will see tougher punishments for those who pester people with unwanted calls and messages. In 2022, there were around 59,800 reports of nuisance communications made to the Information Commissioner, but these new measures are expected to slash the number of calls being made.

The Bill sets out common-sense data laws that will give organisations greater flexibility to protect personal data, while maintaining high data protection standards. The legal changes will improve the UK’s ability to strike international data deals and make these partnerships more secure, allowing British businesses to seize billions of pounds of data trade as a reward of Brexit.

The reforms to UK data laws also aim to reduce the number of consent pop-ups people see online, which repeatedly ask users to give permission for websites to collect data about their visits.

The Bill will also make it easier and quicker for people to verify their identity digitally, if they want to - reducing the need to carry around ID such as passports and drivers’ licences by establishing a framework for the use of trusted and secure digital verification services.

Other announcements

Plans to introduce a new legal framework to encourage innovation in new technologies such as machine learning was also announced, helping to drive new and emerging technologies which will boost jobs and grow the economy.

A new Criminal Justice Bill led by the Home Office was also announced that will ensure people who take intimate images of others.

This will build on the Online Safety Act, which last month received Royal Assent and made it easier to convict someone who shares intimate images without consent and new laws will further criminalise the non-consensual sharing of intimate deepfakes. The change in laws also now make it easier to charge abusers who share intimate images and put more offenders behind bars. Criminals found guilty of this base offence will face up to 6 months in prison, but those who threaten to share such images, or shares them with the intent to cause distress, alarm or humiliation, or to obtain sexual gratification, could face up to two years behind bars.


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