Digital Charter 2017

Queen’s Speech

“A new law will ensure that the United Kingdom retains its world-class regime protecting personal data, and proposals for a new digital charter will be brought forward to ensure that the United Kingdom is the safest place to be online….[1]

Commons library

The 2017 Conservative manifesto promised to take steps to protect the vulnerable online, and develop a “digital charter” balancing freedom with protection for users. This would be underpinned by a regulatory framework, with a regulator and a sanctions regime, and a power to introduce a levy from social media companies and communication service providers to counter internet harms.[2]

Background notes


“proposals for a new digital charter will be brought forward to ensure that the United Kingdom is the safest place to be online.”

We will develop a Digital Charter that will create a new framework which balances users’ and businesses’ freedom and security online.

The Charter will have two core objectives: making the UK the best place to start and run a digital business and the safest place in the world to be online.

We will work with technology companies, charities, communities and international partners to develop the Charter; and we will make sure it is underpinned by an effective regulatory framework.

We are optimistic about the opportunities on offer in the digital age, but we understand these opportunities come with new challenges and threats – to our security, privacy, emotional wellbeing, mental health and the safety of our children. We will respond to these challenges, assuring security and fairness in the new digital age and strengthening the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading digital economies.

We strongly support a free and open internet. But, as in the offline world, freedoms online must be balanced with protections to ensure citizens are protected from the potential harms of the digital world. We will not shy away from tackling harmful behaviours and harmful content online – be that extremist, abusive or harmful to children. And we will make sure that technology companies do more to protect their users and improve safety online.

Many of these challenges are of an international nature, so we will open discussions with other like-minded democracies and work with them to develop a shared approach. The Prime Minister has already started this process, securing an agreement with G7 countries to strengthen their work with tech companies on this vital agenda.

Britain’s future prosperity will be built on our technical capability and creative flair. Through our Modern Industrial Strategy and digital strategy, we will help digital companies at every stage of their growth, including by supporting access to the finance, talent and infrastructure needed for success and by making it easier for companies and consumers to do business online.

Key facts

Working with partners, we have supported robust action to tackle harmful material posted online:

  • the Internet Watch Foundation has shared information on approximately 35,000 indecent images of children with six major tech companies (Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, Yahoo, Adobe and Google) so they can remove them from their services; the Police Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has secured the removal of over 270,000 pieces of terrorist-related content since its creation;
  • the Digital Economy Act introduces protections for children from seeing adult material online.
  • The success of the digital economy is vital to the success of the whole economy, contributing £118 billion to the economy in 2015: over 7% of the UK’s Gross Value Added.[3]

External links


  1. [ Queen's Speech 2017
  2. Online harassment and cyber bullying, House of Commons Library briefing 9 June 2017, page 4
  3. [Queen's Speech 2017: background briefing notes, p58-9