Tech in the first UK Government Modern Slavery Statement
ICT and electronics highlighted as high risk in first UK Government Modern Slavery Statement.
The UK Government published its first Modern Slavery Statement last week. The 29-page document covers all central government departments and clearly states that the £6.5 billion it spends on ICT and electronics represents a high risk of modern slavery.
The publication of the statement marks five years since the Modern Slavery Act passed, a world leading piece of legislation that (among other things) obligates large businesses to publish an annual statement setting out how they evaluate and address modern slavery risks in their operations and wider supply chains. Public sector bodies do not have to produce a statement, but the Home Office is keen to make it so as government departments are huge buyers of goods and services. They consulted on strengthening the reporting requirements last year and we encourage the Home Office to set out next steps shortly so companies can understand what is expected of them.
In the statement there is a strong belief that ICT and electronics has high modern slavery risks mainly in the mining, material extraction and manufacturing phases. There is a whole page devoted to ICT and electronics and this section outlines steps that the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is taking to better understand and manage these risks, but also acknowledges how difficult it is to get full visibility over tech supply chains.
A single smartphone or laptop can contain thousands of components that each have their own supply chain and material extraction. Industry has taken huge strides to better understand the supply chains and work collaboratively with customers and suppliers, and we are encouraged that government is working with NGOs on the ground as well as partnering with Electronics Watch and the Responsible Business Alliance.
As well as projects at the source the statement also says that CCS and departments are asking more questions in the ICT procurement process and developing methods to hold suppliers to account on their modern slavery policies and obligations. The statement does not set this out in detail, so we would like to hear from members on questions they are being asked and would also like to work with CCS and the Home Office around supplier performance.
Over the past five years techUK has been helping companies comply with the Act and take meaningful action. We reported on how the sector was complying with the Act, held workshops on auditing and statement writing, ran a conference and are helping members design internal modern slavery programmes and understand similar laws popping up in jurisdictions all over the world.
We also believe digital technologies are going to be essential in combatting all forms of modern slavery and human trafficking, which is why we are proud to be part of Tech Against Trafficking, a global coalition of tech firms committed to leveraging digital tools against this crime.
To learn more about what techUK is doing on modern slavery and business and human rights more generally, please get in touch using the details below, or use the Portal to register for the Sustainable Supply Chain Group.
Latest News from
£3m to fund new wave of Artificial Intelligence for the Military15/01/2021 16:25:00
techUK members have won funding as part of the DASA Intelligent Ship Phase 2 competition.
Defence Digital and techUK publish joint list of signatories to collaboration Code of Practice15/01/2021 13:33:00
Following the recent launch of a new Code of Practice for collaboration, techUK and Defence Digital are delighted to share a joint list of MOD and industry signatories to the code.
Avon and Somerset Police Proof of Concept (PoC)15/01/2021 11:25:00
Guest Blog: Phillip Ridley, Senior Business Development Consultant at 1Spatial and 'Interoperability in Policing' Working Group member shares his recent work with Avon & Somerset Police in the world of spatial data.
Ofcom report: Technology Futures14/01/2021 16:05:00
The UK's communications regulator Ofcom has published a new report, Technology Futures, that shines a spotlight on the innovative, emerging technologies that could shape the communications industry in the future.
5G Create trials to utilise Open RAN14/01/2021 11:25:00
The UK Government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme has announced the latest projects to receive funding for innovative new uses of 5G, following the 5G Create competition.
Digital Ethics Summit 2020 Day One- Lessons to be learnt from 202011/01/2021 14:25:00
Summary of day one at techUK's Digital Ethics Summit 2020.
Digital Ethics Summit 2020 Day Two- Moving Forward in 202111/01/2021 13:33:00
Summary of day two at techUK's Digital Ethics Summit 2020.
Contribute a case study to techUK’s landmark digital twins report!11/01/2021 09:15:00
techUK is aiming to kick-off 2021 in style with the release of a landmark report ‘Unlocking value across the UK’s digital twin ecosystem’.